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Week 16 Game preview: Bears-Browns

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Who is excited for this game? No seriously, who?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas Eve football, the Bears and the Browns, a battle of teams with a combined four wins.

Yikes.

This game will likely be as sparsely attended as the Bears-Browns preseason tilt that is usually a game featuring all of the third stringers.

Maybe fans that do tune in will get a really good game.

Or not.

Cleveland Browns

SB Nation blog: Dawgs by Nature

Record: 0-14 (Last in AFC North)

Last week: 27-10 loss to the Ravens

Bears all-time record against: 6-9

Historical match ups: The most memorable game between these two games is definitely the 2001 Mike Brown game.

While everyone remembers Brown’s overtime walk off pick six off of the tipped pass, it’s easy to forget the miraculous come back that led to that moment.

The Bears trailed 21-7 with less than 30 seconds left when Marty Booker caught a 9-yard touchdown from Shane Matthews. Chicago recovered the onside kick and then Matthews completed a Hail Mary to James Allen in the endzone to send the game to overtime.

Then Mike Brown happened.

Last meeting: 38-31 Bears win in Week 15 of 2013.

This was the game that former general manager Phil Emery cited when he announced Jay Cutler’s contract extension a couple of weeks after the game.

Cutler threw two early interceptions and the Bears were down but then a see-saw battle ensued and the Bears ended up up 38-24 before a late Josh Gordon touchdown made it 38-31.

Injury report: The Browns listed seven players on their injury report Wednesday:

  • RB Duke Johnson was limited with a shoulder injury
  • RB Isaiah Crowell was limited with shoulder injury
  • DB Briean Bobby-Calhoun was limited with a knee injury
  • WR Matt Hazel was limited with a hamstring injury
  • DB Jamar Taylor did not participate due to a foot injury
  • TE Randall Telfer was limited with a knee injury
  • LB Josh Keyes fully participated as he recovers from a hand injury

Offense: The Cleveland Browns rank dead last in offensive points and 26th in yards.

Despite having the 28th-most pass attempts, the Browns rank 26th in passing yards, 28th in touchdown passes and have the most interceptions.

Starting quarterback DeShone Kizer (2,398 yds./9 TD/19 INTs) is completing just 53.9 percent of his passes. Those passes are going to RB Duke Johnson (61 rec./537 yds./3 TDs), who is the receptions and yards leader, TE Seth Devalve (30/383/1), TE David Njoku (29/335/4) who leads in TDs, RB Isaiah Crowell (27/183/0) and WR Ricardo Louis (26/322/0).

Of course the real threats are WRs Corey Coleman (21/284/2) and Josh Gordon (12/201/1). Despite their small numbers they can get downfield, averaging 13.5 and 16.8 YPC respectively.

The rushing attack of the Browns ranks 17th in yards, 25th in touchdowns and 25th in attempts. Cleveland is led by Isaiah Crowell (179 att./788 yds./2 TD) and Duke Johnson Jr. (72/308/3). DeShone Kizer (68/350/5) is second in yards and leads in touchdowns.

Defense: The Browns have a formidable rush defense and an up and down secondary, leading to a 30th ranking in points allowed and 16th in yards.

They rank 21st in passing yards allowed and seventh is rushing yards allowed.

Opposing QBs have 27 TDs against the Browns, against just six interceptions for a 102.7 rating against them, the best for opposing QBs in the league.

The defensive line of the Browns features a lot of first round picks and some young talent such as Myles Garrett, who has five sacks, Emmanual Ogbah, who has four sacks, two forced fumbles and five pass defenses.

Linebackers Christian Kirksey (76 tkls/3.5 sacks/5 PD/2 FF) and Joe Schobert (73/2.5/2/3) are reliable presences in the middle of the defense.

In the secondary, rookie Jabril Peppers hasn’t shown out, with just two passes defended and one fumble recovery to go with his 37 tackles.

Jason McCourty leads the defense in interceptions with three and has 13 PDs.

Key Match ups: The Bears offensive line against the Browns defensive line is going to be a huge part of this match up. One week ago, against a susceptible Lions front, the offensive line couldn’t get any push and injuries mounted, leading to a poor rushing performance.

The Bears need their rushing game clicking and need to give Mitch Trubisky a clean pocket from which to throw.

Jordan Howard against that stout run defense will also be a big match up because the Bears rely on their rushing attack so much.

On defense, how Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara could have their hands full with Gordon and Coleman. Slowing them down will be key to stopping the Browns’ passing game.

Elsewhere, the Bears will need to find a pass rush from somewhere without Leonard Floyd or Pernell McPhee. Lamarr Houston has played well since his return but he’s about all they have, other than Akiem Hicks.

What to watch for: This is a struggle this week because it’s two of the worst teams in the league on Christmas Eve.

The main watching points will be to see if Mitch Turbisky can light up a suspect Browns team and find some passing lanes and to see if the Bears can get a fifth win.

Should the Bears lose Sunday, aside from being an embarrassment, it won’t change anything, just as a win won’t change much, other than their draft position.

Key stats: The Browns last win was on Christmas Eve last year, against the Chargers.

Both teams have the same number of interceptions: six.

Kizer has nearly 140 more pass attempts than Trubisky but has over twice as many interceptions.

The last time the Bears lost to the Browns was 2005. Following the 20-10 loss the Bears reeled off eight straight wins.

Can the Bears win Sunday? Do you trust them to knock off a winless team?