The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears have a number of injuries they need to deal with, Cleveland more on offense & Chicago more on defense heading into this betting preseason finale.
What We Know About The Coaches
Mike Pettine of Cleveland is 2-5 in the preseason and 1-2 this year after beating the Tampa Bay Bucs last week.
John Fox of Chicago is 30-25 in the preseason and 2-1 this year after his team lost to the Cincinnati Bengals last week. If Pettine had been a rookie coach, maybe the Bears would have an edge, but with Pettine in his second season, this is a wash.
Since Johnny Manziel, the number two quarterback, is nursing an elbow injury, starter Josh McCown might get a little more work in this game than one would have previously expected. McCown was very solid last week against Tampa Bay, completing 17 of 23 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He probably won’t play as much in this game, but he should still get two to three series at least. Thaddeus Lewis, temporarily the second quarterback on the depth chart as long as Manziel’s elbow is a problem, will get a long look in this game. The situation for Cleveland is clear, but whether Lewis will play well at quarterback or not is anyone’s guess.
For the Bears, there’s a real problem here. Veteran quarterback Jay Cutler does not need to take extra hits or risk an injury, but he’s been sluggish enough that he might need a series or two in this game. However, backup Jimmy Clausen got knocked out of last week’s game against Cincinnati with an injury, when the Bengals’ linebacker, P.J. Dawson, hit him in the midst of a slide. Chicago might have to go to its third-stringer, David Fales. Ultimately, this situation leans clearly on the NFL Odds for the Browns .
Team Depth & Rotations
Who the Browns put out on the field on offense to surround Lewis (the quarterback) is a real question. Running back Duke Johnson, a rookie draftee, suffered a concussion last week against Tampa Bay, and as a result, he’ll very probably not play in this game. Receiver (and former quarterback) Terrelle Pryor did not dress last week against the Bucs, so he’ll probably be held out of this game. If he plays, it won’t be for very long.
The Browns also have injures on defense, with Pierre Desir suffering an injury against Tampa Bay. He’s a cornerback and will not be able to support Cleveland’s pass defense against the Bears. On the plus side, receiver Dwayne Bowe returned to the lineup after being out with an injury. He should play a couple of series in this game, but surely won’t be overextended.
The Bears will be without nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who suffered a concussion last week against Cincinnati, and Jeremiah Ratliff – who plays the same position – was in a walking boot last week. He will definitely not play either. Chicago therefore has a lot of issues in the middle of its defensive line. The Browns will try to exploit that.
Ultimately, this is even.
Outlook & Pick
The Bears’ dire situation at backup quarterback, with Clausen unlikely to play too much and Cutler not needing a lot of reps, gives Cleveland the edge as we follow them as one of the NFL picks for today.
NFL Free Pick: Browns +1 at Bodog