Last Friday's game against the Raiders sure looked good from the first unit's perspective, didn't it? Don't expect a repeat performance against the Browns. That statement may have more to do with the amount of time the first unit won't be in the game (read: most of the game) than it has to do with how good the Browns are. Though the Browns aren't going to be as bad this year, in my opinion...
Last Year: 5-11, in last place in the AFC North.
When Last We Met: Yeah, we met last in the preseason last year (and for seemingly every year since I was born...), but the last time the Bears and Browns played in the regular season was Week 8 of the 2009 season. The Bears trounced the Browns that day 30-6 behind three Robbie Gould field goals and two Matt Forte rushing touchdowns, along with a Charles Tillman interception for a touchdown. Jay Cutler went 17-30 for 225 yards and one interception. He was also sacked four times.
Total Yards: 5028 (25th)
Total Points: 302 (24th)
Rushing Yards: 1593 (24th)
Passing Yards: 3435 (19th)
I have to admit, I chuckled last year when I saw the Browns drafted a first-round 28-year-old quarterback in Brandon Weeden, but I didn't think he was bad enough to actually have his starting position declared this preseason. And really, the thing plaguing Weeden is the same thing that plagued Colt McCoy before the Browns jettisoned him - a lack of (developed) weapons. Sure, this year they traded a fourth and fifth round pick to pick up Davonne Bess, but that's not a prime weapon. We're all too familiar with Kellen Davis here, although the Browns may be hoping his drops last year were an outlier. Montario Hardesty hit injured reserve. Josh Cribbs? Gone. Mohammad Massaquoi? Gone.
But they do have 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson and supplemental draft pick Josh Gordon, and they're both looking pretty good. Richardson went for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie last year, and Gordon caught 805 yards and 5 touchdowns. Add in Greg Little and Jordan Cameron, and the Browns' weapons look like they're starting to come together. Not an elite unit, but getting decent.
Total Yards: 5821 (23rd)
Total Points: 368 (19th)
Rushing Yards: 1898 (19th)
Passing Yards: 3923 (25th)
All you need to know - they drafted Barkevious Mingo with their first round pick. That wins just based on the name. Mingo suffered a bruised lung, but he's resumed running.
This wasn't a very good unit last year that needs help everywhere, so you see why they picked up Mingo as well as free agent Paul Kruger (9 sacks in 2012) - pass rush typically makes the rest of the defense a little better. D'Qwell Jackson is still around for his ninth year, as is Craig Robertson, who started three games last season and finished second on the team in tackles. And in the defensive backfield, they supplemented Buster Skrine with free agent Chris Owens, third round pick Leon McFadden and sixth-rounder Jamoris Slaughter.
Ray Horton's switching the team to a 3-4 this year.
If the Bears do this...
I should just put a series of ellipses here, because the Xs-and-Os matter for naught here and because I think I've covered all the possible position battles on Sunday. But, keep in mind that with Matt Blanchard being waived with an injury settlement, there's room for a quarterback to push for the roster, be it Jordan Palmer or Trent Edwards. Michael Ford should also play a role, as will Marquess Wilson.
If the Browns do this...
Jason Campbell's the Browns' second string quarterback. The third stringer is Brian Hoyer. The Bears should get a decent look at the bottom of the defensive backs, in case Demontre Hurst or C.J. Wilson have a chance.
Oh hey, after this one, it's finally time for the regular season. About freaking time.