The Chicago Bears (3-9) take on the Cincinnati Bengals (1-10) this Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sunday’s matchup will be the 11th meeting between the two teams with the Bengals holding the all-time series advantage (6-4). Sunday’s matchup between the Bears and Bengals will boast two teams playing for pride as they finish out the final four weekends of the season. The Bengals sit at 5-7 on the season and have little hope to make the playoffs in the AFC. The Bears have lost five games in a row and continue to search for answers. Cincinnati is coming off of a tough loss to the Steelers where they lost two of their best players on each side of the ball in LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion) and RB Joe Mixon (concussion).
Offense– This week marks the ninth start for rookie QB and first round draft pick Mitchell Trubisky as he faces off against the 8th ranked passing defense in the NFL. The Bears simply do not send the ball down the field, so the passing numbers will most likely be modest again for Trubisky. Last week’s outing against the 49ers netted only 147 total offensive yards. Bears running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will be attacking the 28th rated run defense in the league that is down multiple key players. There should be some room for the Bears running backs to make big plays today. EDGE: EVEN
Defense– After the Bears defense gave up 388 yards and five field goals to the Jimmy Garoppolo led 49ers in his first start, most expect Andy Dalton to have his way with the Bears. With A.J. Green on the outside for Dalton to target this afternoon, the Bears will have their hands full. Running back Joe Mixon is out today for the Bengals but backups Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard will be up to the task. The Bears have too many injuries to overcome on that side of the ball too. EDGE: BENGALS
Special Teams– The Bears will send their third kicker of the season into Cincinnati on Sunday. Mike Nugent joins his seventh team and hopefully brings stability to a position that has struggled all season. Bengals kicker Randy Bullock has connected on 13 of 15 attempts this season. Cohen had his first career punt return for a touchdown last week and he needs another big return to give the Bears a short field. EDGE: EVEN
Offense– Jordan Howard– Howard has had two sub par performances in a row. He needs to get on track this week and get back to the top tier running back we expect to see. The Bengals and their injury depleted defense present a good opportunity for Jordan to post another 100 yard plus outing.
Defense— Prince Amukamara– Amukamara has had a solid season but has yet to make an interception. The Bears are in search of turnovers and Amukamara can make a play to bring life to to the defense.
Special Teams– Mike Nugent– This could be a close game on Sunday and a win or loss could come from the right leg of Ohio native and former Bengal Mike Nugent. Plain and simple, the Bears need a kicker. If he can put his kicks through the uprights he may find himself a permanent position.
1) Win the turnover battle. The Bears simply can’t win the game without getting turnovers and creating a short field.
2) Open it up for Mitch. The offense must take a few deep shots to keep the defense honest. They simply have not thrown the ball down the field and that makes it tough on Howard and Cohen.
3) Make a special teams play. Cohen’s punt return last week was huge and the Bears may need a similar play to win the game on Sunday.
The Bears enter this week’s contest losing five in a row. This game should stay close throughout but it’s hard to see the Bears breaking out of their slump on Sunday. Cincinnati has a superstar in A.J. Green and he will make the difference in the end. Unless the Bears start to take some chances and open up the offense, we’ll continue to see more of the same.
BENGALS 28 BEARS 20
(All stats for this post were provided by espn.com)