Wager Browns to Cover vs. Bears Week 4 NFL Preseason

David Lawrence

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6:58 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 6:58 PM UTC

The Bears and the Browns are both sure of which quarterbacks they want to start their regular seasons. This Thursday’s matchup on the NFL odds will be all about second- and third-string guys.

Is There A Coaching Edge?
Marc Trestman is a longtime offensive coordinator in the NFL and a guy who has head coaching experience from the CFL as the boss of the multiple Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes. He experienced the success of being a capable head coach, and he brought that wisdom to Chicago. If he has Jay Cutler healthy, it’s realistic to think that he can turn the Bears into a playoff team. He has been around the block many times, even though his NFL head coaching career doesn’t have a lot of mileage on it yet.

However, for all the virtues Trestman might have in general, this preseason game might not allow those attributes to shine through. Cutler won’t be playing. The Bears have to rest him up for the regular season, especially since Cutler has dealt with injury problems in recent seasons. Chicago is shuffling some pieces around and is trying to give Trestman nothing more than some clarity on the final roster spots that need to be determined.

Cleveland coach Mike Pettine is entering his first season as an NFL head coach. There’s not a lot of basis for judgment in terms of handicapping how well he’s positioned to win this game and lead his team through the remainder of the preseason. Cleveland has received a lot of attention in the offseason, especially for a team that’s not expected to do much in the regular season. We’re waiting to see what Pettine is truly made of as a head coach.

Who Has The Edge In Quarterback Depth?
This is where Cleveland gets a clear edge, one that’s bigger than Chicago’s slight coaching advantage. The thing to realize about this game is that Chicago’s quarterback situation is in flux right now. Jordan Palmer was picked up by the Buffalo Bills, removing him from the second spot on the depth chart and forcing Jimmy Clausen into that position, which means Clausen’s going to play a lot in this game. Previous number four quarterback David Fales might see a few series, but this seems to be Clausen’s game almost exclusively. Trestman really needs to see a lot of Clausen in this game, so that if Cutler gets injured again, Clausen will be up to speed on the Bears’ playbook and can make necessary adjustments on the fly.

Cleveland, on the other hand, has chosen Brian Hoyer as its quarterback for the regular season, which means this is Johnny Manziel’s game on Thursday. Manziel plays with such energy and enthusiasm, and in a preseason setting when a lot of veterans might coast a little, Manziel could be the guy who’s playing harder than anyone else on the field. That should work to the Browns’ benefit and should be considered when selecting making your NFL picks this week.

Johnny Manziel has a lot to learn as an NFL quarterback, but you know he desperately wants to prove himself in his final preseason game before giving the starting nod to Brian Hoyer. Jimmy Clausen does not inspire confidence for the Bears. Cleveland will cover.

Pick: Browns -5

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