Bears vs. Browns: 5 things to watch in Week 3 matchup

·4 min read

The Chicago Bears will face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, where they’ll be looking for their second straight win as rookie quarterback Justin Fields gears up for his first NFL start.

From Justin Fields’ first NFL start to Matt Nagy’s game plan, here are five things to watch in the Bears’ Week 3 matchup — and a final prediction!

Justin Fields makes first NFL start

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Justin Fields era is upon us. With Andy Dalton currently week-to-week with a bone bruise in his knee, Fields gets his first NFL start against the Browns -- in Ohio, no less, the state where he was beloved as quarterback of Ohio State. Fields has impressed during practice, where he received first-team reps for the first time, and the hope is that success translates to the field. Fields had his share of rookie struggles when he replaced Dalton mid-game last week, but he also showed glimpses of what he can bring to the offense with the right game plan and a week of preparation.

How does Bears defense respond after strong showing?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears defense got back to doing what it does best: stepping up to win a game with the offense struggling. Following an embarrassing Week 1 outing vs. Rams, Chicago's defense came up big in the second half with four consecutive takeaways, including three interceptions of Joe Burrow. Now, the Bears defense will face another talented offense in Cleveland, where Baker Mayfield has been the most accurate passer in the NFL and the Browns' run game has averaged 154 yards per game. This will be another test that will give us a glimpse of exactly where this defense is following a poor outing and a great outing.

Matt Nagy's game plan for Fields

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

As Fields makes his first NFL start, all eyes will be on Matt Nagy, who is tasked with creating a game plan that does right by Fields. Nagy has struggled as a play caller, which caused him to give up play-calling duties midway through last season. As Fields steps onto the field, Nagy is the one under the most pressure as there are questions about whether knows how to use Fields the right way. This would be the game for Nagy to be assertive, not conservative, using Fields’ mobility and deep-ball accuracy to take some shots against this Browns defense.

Will Bears defense be able to contain a talented Browns offense?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

While the Browns defense has some areas of weakness that the Bears can target, Chicago’s defense needs to contend with a Cleveland offense that’s been solid this season. That starts with stopping the run, which has averaged 154 rushing yards per game with Chubb and Hunt. While the Browns will be without Jarvis Landry in the receiving game, Odell Beckham Jr. makes his first start since tearing his ACL last October. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been the most accurate passer in the NFL through two games, completing 81.6% of his passes. But Mayfield has thrown an interception in each game, which means there will be opportunities for the Bears defense. They just need to capitalize.

Can Bears make it 10 in a row against the AFC North?

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears have found plenty of success against the AFC North dating back to 2013, where they’ve gone 9-0, including most recently a Week 2 win over the Bengals. Chicago will be looking to make 10 in a row against the division with a win over the Browns, which won’t be an easy feat. While Cleveland leads the series 9-7, the Bears have won the last three meetings. We’ll see if Chicago can keep their streak going in Fields’ first start.

Prediction: Browns 24, Bears 20

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is almost here as rookie Justin Fields prepares for his first NFL start. While Fields should provide a ton of excitement on offense, he faces a tough challenge on the road against the Browns. Still, this will be the first week where he has an entire week of practice to prepare as the starter and a game plan tailored to his skillset. While the Browns defense has a ton of talent, there are areas of this defense to be exploited, including in the secondary. On defense, Chicago will have to contend with an impressive Browns offense, which start with running the football with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Then there’s quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been insanely accurate through these first two weeks. While the Bears defense is coming off a dominating performance against the Bengals, they will be tested against this Browns offense. The Bears face an overall challenge on the road against a good Browns team, where things should be a lot closer than many expect. Still, I have Cleveland squeaking out a win here. [listicle id=482334] [listicle id=482361]

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