Chicago vs Cleveland Preseason Week 4 Lines & Expert Pick
No team has looked worse this preseason, in my opinion, than the Chicago Bears as they are winless entering their finale Thursday night in Cleveland. The Browns are favored on NFL odds — they might not be favored once in a regular-season game.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Chicago vs Cleveland Preseason Week 4 Lines & Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Thursday, Aug. 1, 8 PM ET
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
TV: check local listings
Radio: Chicago / Cleveland
Opening NFL Lines: Browns -3 (37)
Chicago vs Cleveland Historic Betting Trends
Chicago closed the 2015 preseason with a 24-0 home win over the Browns. Bears third-string QB David Fales threw two touchdown passes. Fales completed 14 of 18 passes for 131 yards with Jay Cutler getting the night off. The defense had seven sacks and three takeaways, helping Chicago prevail on a night when both teams held out almost all their top players. In 2014, the Bears closed the preseason with a 33-13 loss in Cleveland. Brian Hoyer went 6 of 8 for 69 yards on the opening drive against Chicago’s backups before Ben Tate scored on a 1-yard run. Hoyer is now Cutler’s backup in Chicago.
Why Bet on Chicago?
The Bears looked just terrible on Saturday in losing 23-7 at home to Kansas City. The Chiefs outgained the Bears 239-20 in the first half, had 16 first downs compared to Chicago’s two and dominated time of possession 21:54 to 8:06. Kansas City had 177 yards passing compared to minus-7 for the Bears through the first two quarters. Cutler had a rough game playing behind a line that was missing star right guard Kyle Long. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury and won’t play here. Cutler played into the third quarter and completed 6 of 15 passes for 45 yards. I doubt he plays Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Bears welcomed back two key members on offense as tight end Zach Miller and receiver Eddie Royal passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and practiced without restrictions Monday for the first time in close to a month. Miller and Royal are eligible to play Thursday, but Coach John Fox seemed to downplay the importance of preseason action for experienced players.
“You know, [it’s] not particularly [important they play],” Fox said. “I’ve had a lot guys that are vets, not too many rookies, that maybe did not play. But we’ll kind of monitor that.”
Chicago remains without its best defensive player in linebacker Pernell McPhee. He had offseason knee surgery and hasn’t even been practicing so his status for Week 1 is very much in doubt. McPhee’s procedure to repair a damaged left knee was thought to be routine, but that scope occurred six months ago and he remains on the physically-unable- to-perform list here in the preseason. If he opens the regular season on the PUP list, he’ll have to sit out at least the first six weeks.
Why Bet on Cleveland?
The Browns (0-3) haven’t looked any better than the Bears, not scoring more than 13 points in a preseason game yet. They lost 30-13 at Tampa Bay last Friday. But there was a bright spot in the preseason debut of Josh Gordon. He scored on a 43-yard reception and also hauled in another pass from Robert Griffin III for a 44-yard gain that led to a first quarter field goal. Griffin completed 8 of 14 passes for 119 yards, one TD and no interceptions before being replaced by Josh McCown at the start of the third quarter.
Cleveland released linebacker Paul Kruger on Monday in a bit of a surprise. He joins Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner and Barkevious Mingo as significant players who depart with GM Sashi Brown and Coach Hue Jackson in charge. Kruger’s numbers suffered in 2015 with the move to strong side from weak side, but this season his role would have changed again. This coaching staff did not see Kruger as an every- down player. He was due to make $7 million this year. The Browns also traded Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee to Carolina on Monday. The Browns traded Lee three days after Jackson jumped the 13-year veteran on the sideline for a lack of effort on trying to stop a return that went 73 yards for a touchdown against Tampa. Lee ranks sixth in the NFL all-time in gross punting average (46.2 yards), eighth all-time in net average (39.5) and ninth all-time for punts inside the 20 (325).
Jackson has said he will play his starters in this game.
“I think we need to play them,” said Jackson, who added he was not sure how long the starters would play, just that they would. "I think we need to get better as a football team.”
My Free Pick
The Browns are playing their key guys and the Bears probably aren’t so take Cleveland on NFL lines and the under.