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How the Browns run game pairs up with the Bears defensive front

Chicago’s run defense ranks second in rushing yards allowed

Running back

After a decent showing last week against the Jaguars, the Browns run game will go against another top-five run defense in the Bears on Sunday. The Bears run defense will be one of the best front sevens the Browns have seen this season.

The Browns will face the Bears, who have only allowed 1,088 rushing yards this season, which ranks second in the NFL. The Bears also only allow 3.6 yards per carry, which ranks second in the NFL. The Bears run defense has been holding their opponents to an average of just 79 yards per game. 

Since DE Montez Sweat was traded to Chicago on Oct. 31, the Bears defense has performed well. As of Week 9, the Bears defense ranks fifth in total defense – allowing only 272.2 yards per game – and fifth in pass defense, allowing only 180.6 yards per game. They also rank ninth in scoring defense, allowing only 18.2 points per game. Additionally, the Bears defense is tied for second place in total takeaways with a total of 11.

"Definitely skilled pass rusher, good against the run," Van Pelt said about Sweat. "Really good player. Big, strong, physical power rusher. He's definitely helped him a ton since he's gotten there."

The Bears also have DT Justin Jones, who is second on the team in sacks with 3.5 and leads all linemen in tackles with 40. He does a good job at bringing down running backs. 

However, Chicago's defensive front took a hit on Wednesday, as it was announced that DE Yannick Ngakoue is out for the season with an ankle injury. He had four sacks on the season and 25 tackles.

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Chicago Bears

Although the Bears present a significant threat to the Browns run game, Cleveland has faced top run-stopping defenses all season. In Week 6, the Browns went against the 49ers, who have allowed the least rushing yards this season with 1,018. In that game, the Browns rushed for 160 yards and scored a touchdown. RB Jerome Ford averaged 4.9 yards per carry and finished with 84 yards rushing. Hunt had 12 attempts for 47 yards and scored a touchdown.

Last week against the Jaguars, who ranked in the top five in rushing yards allowed, RB Jerome Ford averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and RB Kareem Hunt scored a touchdown.

In practice, the Browns have been facing their own top-ranked defense, which only allows rushing first downs 19.3 percent of the time.

"We have to dig in and make sure we are detailed in everything we do," Ford said. "I look at every defense as if they are the number one defense. Stats don't matter because, on any given Sunday, someone can step up and play like they are a top defense."

The Browns run game the past two weeks with QB Joe Flacco under center has looked different. It could continue to look different moving forward. 

"Usually in RPO you will get a lighter box because everything is spread out," Hunt said. "Under center, you will have more blockers. It's a difference for sure."

Going under center limits the run packages a team can run, and the angles running backs can go. Despite the different formations, the Browns will look to succeed in the running game, which should open up the play-action.

"It's just a different approach," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "We did a lot of the same stuff. Same type of plays from the gun, just allowing us under center. It does have a little more pool in the play-action game when you get under center. That's definitely true."