It’s the battle of the Red Rifle versus his old squad on Chicago’s gorgeous lakefront this Sunday, as the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Bears at Soldier Field. No doubt, Chicago will be searching for a palate cleanser after a forgettable showing in week one.
Matt Nagy spent the week taking shots from just about everyone when it comes to his game plan in Week 1, including his own players, when Marquise Goodwin publicly questioned the refusal to stretch the field when speaking with the media. But despite the general criticism for his game plan, Nagy contends that it was specific to the Rams and that we shouldn’t expect to see a repeat this week against the Bengals.
For as ugly as Nagy’s week one game plan was, this illustration by local artist Ariel Sinha depicting this week’s matchup between the Bears and Bengals is equally as beautiful.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 17, 2021
I love that they’ve brought back these weekly designs, and they’re made for a good cause, which makes it even better. So if you want to own some sweet art and support the cause (all profits will be donated to the Bears Care charity), you can do that here.
Anyways, back to the game.
It’s pretty simple for the Bears this week; they have to do pretty much everything better than they did in week one against the Rams. It was that bad that there’s really nowhere to go from here but up, right? Hopefully, if not, there’s still hope that we can get ESPN simulation No. 13,330.
One of ESPN’s 20,000 Simulations Has Justin Fields Saving the Bears’ Season in Dramatic Fashionhttps://t.co/Qx7aumEtxd
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) September 7, 2021
Come for the awesome hype video, stay for the game details, and ‘Three Bears’ for this week!
If that doesn’t get you juiced up for a return to football at Soldier Field, nothing will.
“Never Tell Me The Odds”
The Bengals lead 6-5 in regular-season meetings, but the Bears have won the last two matchups.
Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:
Location: Soldier Field; Chicago
Broadcast Info: Sunday, Sept. 19 at 12 p.m. CT on FOX-TV (Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), SportsUSA Radio (Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier)
Officials: Land Clark (referee)
Expected Starters and Lineups:
CHICAGO BEARS (0-1, 0-0 NFC North)
POINTS FOR: 14 (14.0 PPG, 27th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST: 34 (34.0 PPG, 28th of 32)
• QB Andy Dalton
• RB David Montgomery
• WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin
• TE Cole Kmet
• LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Germain Ifedi
Unavailable: OL Teven Jenkins, RB/PR Tarik Cohen
• DT Akiem Hicks, NT Khyiris Tonga, DE Bilal Nichols
• OLBs Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn
• ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
• CBs Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
• FS Eddie Jackson
• SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.
Unavailable: LB Danny Trevathan, DE Mario Edwards Jr., Eddie Goldman?
• Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Nsimba Webster (punt returns), Khalil Herbert (kick returns)
Expected Starters and Lineups:
CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-0, 0-0 AFC North)
POINTS FOR: 27 (27.0 PPG, 14th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST: 24 (24.0 PPG, 16th of 32)
• QB Joe Burrow
• RB Joe Mixon
• WRs Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase
• TE C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample
• LT Jonah Williams, LG Quinton Spain, C Trey Hopkins, RG Xavier Su’a-Filo, RT Riley Reiff
Unavailable: OL Hakeem Adeniji
• DE Trey Hendrickson, DT D.J. Reader, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DE Sam Hubbard
• LBs Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson
• CBs Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Eli Apple
• S Vonn Bell, Jessie Bates III
Unavailable: DE Wyatt Hubert, S Ricardo Allen, DE Joseph Ossai, DE Khalid Kareem
• Evan McPherson (kicker), Kevin Huber (punter, holder), Clark Harris (long snapper), Brandon Wilson (kick returns), Darius Phillips (punt returns)
Three Bears …
David Montgomery was second in the NFL in rushing yards in week one, with 108 yards on just 16 carries (6.8 YPC). He scored one of the Bears two touchdowns on a three-yard push into the endzone with time running out in the first half on Sunday night against the Rams. And he’ll have to be every bit as good this week to give the Bears a shot at winning.
With Andy Dalton playing behind a battered offensive line pushing the ball downfield through the air wasn’t a part of Matt Nagy’s week one gameplan, and I’m not sure it will be much of a focus against the Bengals. When the Bears were at their best last season, they were feeding David Montgomery the ball in heavy doses and allowing the passing game to work as a complement to Montgomery. So until the reigns are handed over to Justin Fields, the Bears should be riding Montgomery as much as possible.
The Bengals did a decent job of bottling up Dalvin Cook last week (61 yards on 20 carries), but they have a bunch of new faces sprinkled into a defense that ranked 29th and was gutted on the ground all year, allowing opposing rushing attacks to rack up 2,368 yards at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry.
Jaylon Johnson will have his hands full this week with whomever he matches up against, as the Bengals will deploy a pair of dangerous receivers in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Last week, second-year quarterback Joe Burrow hooked up with his old LSU teammate Chase five times (seven targets) for 101 yards and a touchdown against a pretty good Minnesota Vikings defense. Higgins hauled in four catches on five targets for 58 yards and a touchdown himself in week one.
Johnson may be in for a long day at the office this week. If he’s not up to the task of dealing with that two-headed receiving monster, that’s a recipe for a repeat of week one where the Bears secondary was torched for 321 yards and three scores through the air in Inglewood, Ca.
Andy Dalton gets his “revenge game,” if you’re into that sort of thing when he matches up with the team he spent his first 10 NFL seasons with this Sunday. As much as we want to see Justin Fields take over under center in Chicago, that’s not what we’re getting right now, and as Luis highlighted on Thursday afternoon, Dalton wasn’t as bad as many would like to think he was against the Rams.
Whether Matt Nagy wants to stick with the short yard routes in the passing game, focusing on getting the ball out quickly behind a shoddy line and into the hands of his playmakers on offense, or he wants to test the Cincinnati secondary down the field a bit, Dalton’s efficiency will play a major role in the outcome of this week’s matchup.
Save for the RedZone pick on the opening drive against the Rams; Dalton was serviceable in what he was asked to do by his head coach Matt Nagy. If I can get some more of that this week — and maybe a shot or two down the field, selfishly — I’ll be content in this department.