The Bears look to avoid a third straight loss while trying to hand the lowly Browns a third consecutive defeat Sunday at Soldier Field.
As the franchise plans to honor Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton on the 10th anniversary of his death, Chicago (3-3) needs to put forth a better effort than it did in a shocking 45-10 loss at Cincinnati last Sunday.
The Bears allowed a season-high 448 yards, while former Chicago running back Cedric Benson(notes) rushed for a career-high 198 yards and the Bengals scored on their first four possessions in the team’s worst defeat since a 49-7 loss to San Francisco in 2003.
In the past two contests, quarterback Jay Cutler(notes) has thrown five interceptions, Matt Forte(notes) has rushed for 47 total yards and the defense has failed to produce a sack. Though he wouldn’t go into detail, coach Lovie Smith would not rule out any lineup changes for Sunday.
The Bears rank 29th in the NFL in rushing (80.7 yards per game) and allow 220.3 passing yards per contest.
“I don’t think you try to send a message,” Smith said. “You look to see what gives you the best chance to win this week.
“We consider personnel changes each week, we look at everything that we did this past game. What we did last week didn’t work, so of course we need to change some things up.”
One move Smith will likely make is getting Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris(notes) on the field after he was benched last Sunday because he didn’t practice enough during the week due to knee soreness.
“By giving him off last week, he was able to get a little more work in this week so that’s got to be good for him,” Smith said of Harris, who has just nine tackles.
Despite the team’s struggles of late, the Bears - 2-0 at home - have a chance to get back on track against the Browns (1-6), who rank 31st in total offense (225.4 ypg), 30th in scoring (10.3 ppg) and 27th in points allowed (25.6).
Cutler, who has thrown 11 touchdowns and been intercepted 10 times this year, passed for a career-high 447 yards during a 34-30 win over Cleveland last season with Denver. It was the second-highest passing total versus the Browns after Minnesota’s Tommy Kramer threw for 456 yards in 1980.
A Pro Bowler in 2007, Anderson has the lowest passer rating in the NFL at 40.6 - the third-worst rating through seven weeks this decade. Only Ryan Leaf (34.5 in 2000) and Kerry Collins(notes) (37.5 in 2006) have started a season as poorly.
“Honestly, they are garbage,” Anderson said of his statistics. “I haven’t looked at them since I started playing.”
Still, coach Eric Mangini will stick with Anderson to guide an offense that’s scored four touchdowns this season. In Anderson’s defense, Cleveland receivers have dropped a league-high 22 catchable passes.
“I think he gives us the best chance right now to move the ball,” said Mangini, who’s team put up 139 yards of offense against Green Bay - its third straight game under 200.
This is the first meeting between the teams since Cleveland won 20-10 at home on Oct. 9, 2005. The Browns lead 9-4 in the all-time series, but have dropped their last two contests in Chicago since winning 28-24 on Nov. 30, 1969.
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