5 bold predictions for Bears vs. Browns

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A new era is officially beginning for the Chicago Bears this Sunday when rookie Justin Fields makes the first start of his NFL career. Naturally, all eyes are on No. 1 after head coach Matt Nagy made the decision to play the 2021 first-round pick following an injury to Andy Dalton, but there’s other things to watch for an note in this week’s matchup against the Browns.

If you’re keeping track at home (and if so, God bless you), we had a good week last Sunday against the Bengals, as 2.5/5 bold predictions came to fruition after Jaylon Johnson got his first interception and the Bears registered more than three sacks. I’m giving myself the half point for Fields’ touchdown because we all know Allen Robinson should have come down with the ball. Partial credit, right?

Anyway, here are my bold predictions for this week’s game against the Browns.

Justin Fields rushes for 50+ yards

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie quarterbacks don't tend to pass for a lot of yardage in their first start and I expect Fields to follow that same trend. Though Nagy falls in love with the passing game, I believe he leans on the ground game for this one, giving Fields an opportunity to use his legs. With designed rollouts and possibly breakdowns in the pocket, Fields is going to be moving all over the place on Sunday. He's going to find himself with 50+ yards on the ground, while being a bit cautious through the air.

Jesse James catches a touchdown from Justin Fields

AP Photo/David Banks

We all remember the connection tight end Jesse James developed with Fields during the preseason, right? The "From Justin to Jesse" meme is still on my to-do list, by the way. Regardless, James and Fields hooked up for some big gains during the preseason and he saw a bit of an uptick in offensive snaps last weekend. James played in 14 snaps last week, up from 9 in Week 1. Nagy has already mentioned his desire to get the tight ends more involved all together going forward and with a commitment to the running game against the Browns, I expect him to be on the field even more in 13 personnel. Look for James to slip off the line for a touchdown at some point during the game.

Robert Quinn registers another sack

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Don't look now but Robert Quinn is already surpassing his sack totals from the 2020 season. The veteran pass rusher has 2.5 sacks on the season in just two games. He had 2.0 during the entire season last year and looks like the player the Bears thought they were getting when he signed for $30 million guaranteed last offseason. Quinn, along with Khalil Mack, have a chance to wreak havoc on the Browns' offensive line. Much of their offensive line is on this week's injury report, including starting tackles Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. Wills hasn't practiced due to an ankle injury and could be a longshot to play, giving Quinn a prime opportunity to add to his sack totals.

Bears front seven hold Browns to under 115 rushing yards

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Through two weeks, the Browns are averaging 154 rushing yards per game on offense. The Bears, meanwhile, are allowing an average of 71 yards rushing yards per game. Something's got to give, right? With (hopefully) the return of nose tackle Eddie Goldman, I'm betting on the Bears to shut down the high-powered Cleveland ground game, forcing Baker Mayfield to win with his arm. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are arguably the best running back duo in the game and containing them isn't going to be an easy task. But with offensive line injuries and a Bears front seven that is getting key players back, like Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr., they're going to make it tough to run the ball effectively.

Odell Beckham Jr. gets a taunting penalty

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Not all of my bold predictions need to be huge, game-altering takes. Sometimes I want to predict something somewhat small in the grand scheme of things. That's why I'm picking Odell Beckham Jr., making his return to the field following a torn ACL last season, to immediately get dinged for the NFL's new taunting rule. The penalties are sweeping the league right now, with many players getting flagged for trash talking after a big play. Beckham has been away from the field for a long time and plays with a lot of emotion. I think he costs his team some prime field position with a taunting penalty following a big gain against the Bears secondary. Hopefully it comes at the opportune moment for the Bears.

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