Bears vs Bengals Game Preview
The Bears and Bengals’ meeting is like two mediocre teams passing by each other headed in opposite directions: the Bears are moving up while the Bengals are slowly, but surely headed downwards.
Cincinnati has been stuck in mediocrity for over a decade. They’re good enough to contend make the playoffs but not good enough to win a game. The Bears have been perennial losers but thanks to some personnel changes offer some hope.
Chicago won’t win any Super Bowls any time soon but they will at least fight for a playoff spot. General manager Ryan Pace did well in providing young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with some help through the draft and he also bolstered the defence in a big way.
The Bears remain a defensive team and the addition of bluechip Roquan Smith to the linebacker corps is a great move. This strong defence will keep them in games and give Trubisky and the offence some breathing room.
They may be better than their crosstown rivals, the Browns but not by much. The Bengals had all the pieces of a Super Bowl contender but missed the most important part: a game-changing quarterback. And Andy Dalton is not it.
This team had their shot to make a run for the Super Bowl in recent years but an ageing defence, a shoddy offensive line, and Dalton remaining unexceptional will keep this team on the hamster wheel of mediocrity.
This will be the second game for the Bears and that extra game could give them that slight boost in experience. The rust is off and the jitters are gone but it could also mean injuries. If it’s the former, the Bears will prey on Cincinnati’s inexperienced backup unit and come away with the win.
Bears vs Bengals Head-to-Head Records
Chicago and Cincinnati have met 11 times since 1972 and the Bengals lead the series ever-so-slightly at 6-5. They have split their last four meetings with two wins apiece although Chicago won the last two.
Their first met in 1972 where the Bengals defeated Chicago 13-3 in a gruelling match. Eight years later in 1980, the Bengals won again. Chicago finally won in 1986, 14 years after their first meeting. The Bears embarrassed the Bengals 44-7 in their own turf. And in their last five meetings, four games were all blowouts.
The Bears edged the Bengals 24-21 in 2013, their first win since 2001. And they blew them out 33-7 in their most recent meeting in 2017.
Both teams are close to each other talent-wise but the Bears are the ones trending up. If this continues, expect Chicago to get the better of Cincinnati moving forward.
Chicago Bears Recent History
The last time Chicago made the playoffs was the start of the decade though they remained a decent team until 2014 when they became the cellar dwellers of the NFC North. Injuries and a lack of stability in both the personnel and at quarterback were to blame.
In the last six years, the Bears have gone through three coaches and two general managers all with different styles particularly the former. They went from Lovie Smith’s grinding style to Marc Trestman’s explosive offence to John Fox’s old-school approach and none worked.
But in hiring former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, the Bears have a brilliant mind who will be a boon for Trubisky and the growing offence as they hope to get back to being contenders.
Cincinnati Bengals Recent History
Being a Bengals fan is arguably more tormenting than being a Browns fan. At least the Browns don’t give any hope (until this season). But with the Bengals, they always offer some kind of promise that they’ll finally win a playoff game. Seven straight one-and-done’s in the playoffs, however, is a snapshot of this team’s identity.
From 2009 to 2015, the Bengals made seven playoff appearances in eight seasons with five of these seasons have double-digit wins. Each one in resulted in a wild card playoffs loss with the most painful coming in 2015 when a Vontez Burfict penalty gave their archrivals, the Steelers the last-second win.
Amidst all these failures, Marvin Lewis remains head coach and it’s thanks to team owner Mike Brown doubling as a general manager. So long as Brown refuses to concede GM duties, this team will remain in purgatory.
Chicago Bears Outlook
With a promising defence, the Bears will be relevant for the next few years. This defence ranked 7th against the pass led by safety Adrian Amos and the secondary. They beefed up their linebackers to help against the run making them even more formidable. They need to be playing in the stacked NFC North.
The biggest question is their quarterback, Trubisky. This franchise hasn’t had much luck with their pivots and it says a lot that Jay Cutler is their all-time leader in passing categories. Trubisky has the physical tools such as his powerful arm but he needs to stay healthy and play up to his hype.
The Bears are going the opposite way of the Bengals at least. All Trubisky has to do is be decent enough to give them a chance to win and the defence can do the heavy lifting. If he fulfils his promise, this Bears team could be on top of the division soon.
Cincinnati Bengals Outlook
It may happen but don’t tell it to the hopeless Bengals fans. But someday, Brown may eventually hire an actual general manager and Lewis could be fired. And Dalton will be replaced by a quarterback who can actually deliver when it mattered. But as it stands, the Bengals face a bleak future.
The best part of the team, their defence, is getting older. They added younger pieces through the draft but in doing so neglected their most dire need: the offensive line. The Bengals were atrocious in 2017 because Dalton didn’t have much protection. And the running game remains pedestrian at best.
Optimistically, the Bengals are just a few fixes away from making another run but that’s only for the short term. At some point the franchise will have to bite the bullet and restructure its team again. But with both Brown and Lewis still running the show, it’s unlikely the next generation of Bengals will be any different.
The Bengals will likely start Matt Barkley and he’ll get to show off in a bid to supplant Dalton but he’s going up against a stacked Bears defence. Translation: Barkley won’t be replacing Dalton barring injury.
Cincinnati has some nice pieces on the receiving end but it won’t matter when the quarterback is running for his life. Their offensive line starters are already thin and the backups will be hard-pressed especially when the Bears have a deep front-seven built to take on the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford.
Likewise, the Bears’ offensive line isn’t that great either and the Bengals’ new additions on the defensive line could rip through them and give Daniel Chase a run-for-his-money. Either way, each team’s quarterback will be under siege throughout the game. Expect plenty of sacks, incomplete passes, and a defensive showcase for the most part.
The extra game the Bears have played could also factor in with both injuries and experience. While the Bengals are shaking off the rust, the Bears who have had reps will be closer to game mode. Combine the Bengals’ thin offensive line with the Bears stout front-seven and this is Chicago’s game to lose.