Bears vs. Browns — What to Watch 4

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12)
has 12 receptions for 201 yards (16.8 avg.) in three games since returning from a drug suspension. (Kelvin Kuo/AP)


Wide receiver Josh Gordon — who led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 in his last full season in 2013 — has given the Browns’ offense and quarterback DeShone Kizer a boost since returning from a drug suspension. In three games, the 6-4, 220-pound Gordon has 12 receptions for 201 yards (16.8 average) and one touchdown.

With Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara starting at cornerback, the Bears have done a pretty good job on opposing wide receivers. They’ve allowed only one 100-yard wide receiver this season — the Steelers’ Antonio Brown in Week 3 (10-110, barely above his 109.5-yard average). Only the Broncos and Chargers have allowed fewer 100-yard games by wide receivers this season.


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“He’s got really good size. He can run well. He’s a good athlete, big catch radius,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “You can see why they’ve been so patient with him, waiting for him to come around.”


In three seasons under coach John Fox, the Bears — who are 6½-point favorites against the Browns — are 0-7 when favored. That includes two losses this season: to the Packers (+4.5) at Soldier Field in Week  10 (23-16) and to the 49ers (+2.5) at Soldier Field in Week 13 (15-14).

On the other hand, the Browns are 1-28 as underdogs in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson.


Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s development remains the most watchable element — maybe the only watchable element — of the Bears’ trying season. Trubisky is coming off “arguably his best game,” according to Fox, after throwing for a career-high 314 yards (albeit with three interceptions for a 66.8 passer rating) against the Lions last week.

Trubisky threw 46 passes against the Lions and could be in for a heavy workload again Sunday. The Browns are seventh in the NFL in rushing defense (96 yards per game) and first in yards per carry (3.3).

“The motivation is just to win,” Trubisky said when asked about facing the winless Browns. “We’ve got a bunch of competitors on our team, and we’re trying to finish our season strong. We don’t care who rolls in here. We get to play our last game at Soldier Field this year, so that means a lot to us.”


Focus and fortitude. Both teams are at the end of a dismal season, with the fate of the head coach in doubt. The Bears are downplaying the fact that the Browns are 0-14 and that losing to a winless team would be a particularly indelible stain. As for the Browns, they finish with the Steelers next week, so this could be their best chance for a win.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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