CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-14) AT CHICAGO BEARS (4-10)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Soldier Field. TV: CBS, Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 16th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 9-6. The Bears won the last game 38-31 in 2013 in Cleveland. The Bears have won the last two and three of the last four. The Bears have won all three games at Soldier Field and haven't lost in Chicago to the Browns since a 28-24 defeat in 1969 at Wrigley Field. The last game at Soldier Field was a 30-6 Bears win in 2009.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky gets a chance to go against his hometown team (he grew up less than an hour from Cleveland) and make them regret not drafting him. If he gets time to maneuver around the pocket and show off his arm, it could be a long day for the 0-14 Browns.
The Bears have to think more quick-hitting passes and inside zone runs in this one because of the way Cleveland blitzes. The emphasis on offense needs to be on the quick passes, screens, short outside throws and hitting hot reads.
Seven-step setups are definitely out. Moving Trubisky in the pocket can work to stem the pass rush, but he has to have time to get his feet set this week, unlike last week.
The Bears had good preparation for attacking the Browns' run defense by going against the Lions' 4-3 last week. The Lions run-blitzed occasionally to disrupt blocking schemes, and Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams never needs an invitation to blitz. In fact, the Browns' blitzing is likely to be more exotic and prevalent.
The Browns passed on drafting Trubisky and have their own rookie quarterback in DeShone Kizer at the helm -- maybe. Embattled coach Hue Jackson has started doubting whether Kizer has the ability to be an NFL quarterback.
Cleveland has no other viable option in these waning weeks of the season. If Kizer can avoid making mistakes like throwing into triple coverage in the end zone or fumbling the ball, the Browns could pull off the upset and win their first game of the season.
The conditions are sure to feel a lot like winter. The Browns' best bet is to run the ball and use Duke Johnson's exceptional ball-catching ability out of the backfield to keep the Bears' defense off-balance.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Bears RB Jordan Howard vs. Browns OLB James Burgess. Howard leads the Bears with 1,069 rushing yards. Burgess covers a lot of ground from his outside linebacker spot. He is quick enough to get into the backfield before Howard gets up a head of speed.
--Browns WR Corey Coleman vs. Bears CB Prince Amukamara. The 6-foot-3 Coleman is a vertical downfield threat and can take advantage of Amukamara in the vertical game. However, he has yet to develop a good rapport with QB DeShone Kizer, so it benefits Amukamara on back-shoulder throws in particular.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Questionable: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), WR Matt Hazel (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (foot)
Doubtful: G Josh Sitton (ankle)
--Questionable: T Tom Compton (concussion), S Chris Prosinski (concussion), TE Adam Shaheen (chest)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bears CB Kyle Fuller. Fuller elevated his game last week against Detroit even while the secondary struggled. He'll be tested this week by Browns WR Josh Gordon. After this season, Fuller's contract is up and the Bears will have a decision to make on his value. He has had numerous interception opportunities but has just one. Then again, he has a whopping 16 passes defensed, nine more than anyone else on the team. He also has developed into a very physical, effective tackler.
FAST FACTS: Browns QB DeShone Kizer has four TD passes in his last two games against the NFC. He is tied for second among QBs with five rushing TDs. ... RB Isaiah Crowell has 193 rushing yards (96.5 per game) in his last two games. In six games against the NFC, he has 644 yards from scrimmage with three rushing TDs. ... RB Duke Johnson ran for a TD last week. He has two straight games with a TD and is averaging 6.4 yards per touch, highest among AFC running backs. He is one of two running backs (Herschel Walker) in NFL history with 50 catches and 500 receiving yards in his first three seasons. Since entering the league in 2015, he leads NFL running backs with 1,585 receiving yards. ... Rookie TE David Njoku has three TD catches in his last six games on the road. He ranks third among rookie TEs with four receiving TDs. ... LB Christian Kirksey has 31 tackles in past three games. LB Joe Schobert has 43 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks in his past four road games. Schobert (125 tackles) and Kirksey (124) are the only teammates to have more than 100 tackles. ... Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 314 yards and a TD last week, his first career 300-yard game. He has not thrown an interception at home in the past four games. ... RB Jordan Howard ranks second in the NFC with 1,069 rushing yards. He has 827 yards from scrimmage and six TDs in six career games against the AFC. Since entering the league in 2016, he ranks third in the NFL with 2,382 rushing yards. ... Rookie RB Tarik Cohen has 233 yards from scrimmage in three career games against the AFC and he ranks fourth among rookie running backs with 45 receptions. ... DE Akiem Hicks leads the team with a career-high eight sacks. He is tied for second in the NFC with 15 tackles for loss. ... LB Danny Trevathan has 37 tackles in his last four games. He has 26 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in his last three games against the AFC.
PREDICTION: In a battle of rookie quarterbacks, the Chicago signal caller gets the nod here. The Browns do play hard and one of these days they will be rewarded. Jordan Howard will run and run and run and keep the Browns' offense off the field.
OUR PICK: Bears, 17-13.