Hot Hits

Chicago Bears host Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 opener

Expect a packed house at Soldier Field as the Chicago Bears kick off their 2013 campaign against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Expect a packed house at Soldier Field as the Chicago Bears kick off their 2013 campaign against the Cincinnati Bengals.

We made it! The long offseason is finally over, and real NFL football is back! Say goodbye to your significant others for the next four months — it’s time to shift our attention to what really matters: the NFL. 

The Chicago Bears open their season—and kick off the Marc Trestman era—at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. This will be a tough test for Chicago, as Cincinnati has a talented team that has made the playoffs two years in a row. But the Bears matched Cincinnati’s 10-6 record last year, and both teams think they are better this season, so this should be a good litmus test all around.

Let’s take a look at some key issues for this game if the Chicago Bears want to start the season off with a victory.

Keeping quarterback Jay Cutler upright will be a tall task for the Chicago Bears offensive line.

Keeping quarterback Jay Cutler upright will be a tall task for the Chicago Bears offensive line.

Protect the quarterback

If the Chicago Bears offense is going to get anything going in this game, it will begin with keeping quarterback Jay Cutler on his feet. This is an extremely difficult task going against a ferocious Cincinnati defensive line led by All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The Bengals tallied 51 sacks in 2012, good for third in the NFL.

Chicago’s new-look offensive line, which features two rookies and a total of four new starters, will have their work cut out for them here. Look for Trestman to do what he can to help them out with a combination of using the running game and quick passes and having tight ends and running backs help block.

Unleash the unknown

New coach Marc Trestman will be calling plays for the Chicago Bears this year, and nobody really knows exactly what his offense will look like. He hasn’t been in the NFL for over a decade, and deliberately kept things very vanilla in the preseason. It is reasonable to suspect that Trestman may just have a few tricks up his sleeve that Cincinnati has no way of preparing for, and a few surprises could just be enough to help the Chicago Bears get a few crucial points in what should be a closely contested game.

Of course, the flip side of this is that the Chicago Bears are still learning a new offense, meaning that there are likely to be some mistakes and kinks to work out. Chicago hopes the surprises they can spring on Cincinnati will outweigh the mistakes.

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman will be called on to slow down Cincinnati wide receiver AJ Green.

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman will be called on to slow down Cincinnati wide receiver AJ Green.

Harass the quarterback

On the defensive side of the ball, the Chicago Bears have a good chance to make life difficult for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals have a good offensive line, but starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth is expected to miss the game as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. That means Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers will be going against a backup, something that will certainly help him — and the rest of the defensive line should Cincinnati shift more attention towards Peppers.

Tillman vs. Green

Much like the Chicago Bears, the Bengals passing game relies upon one primary target: wide receiver A.J. Green. Green is entering his third year and has already established himself as an upper-echelon wide receiver, grabbing 97 balls for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. Green is big and fast, in the same mold as other top receivers like Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson.

Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman did excellent work against those Johnsons in 2012, limiting them to a combined 12 catches (on 35 targets) for 141 yards in three games. Limiting Green in a similar manner would go a long way towards helping stop Cincinnati’s offense.

A big day from return man Devin Hester would give the Chicago Bears an excellent chance of winning.

A big day from return man Devin Hester would give the Chicago Bears an excellent chance of beating Cincinnati.

Return to form for Hester?

Longtime return man Devin Hester is no longer playing wide receiver for the Chicago Bears this year, and buzz has been building in the Windy City that this may help return his return game to its previous dominant level. Hester did look explosive in limited work in the preseason, as he averaged over thirty yards per kickoff return. A big play or two from Hester on special teams would really help spark the offense in what looks to be a defensive struggle.

Prediction

I see this as a fairly evenly matched game featuring two extremely similar teams. Both have defenses that are better than their offenses, but offenses that are expected to improve this season. I give the Chicago Bears a slight edge in this game due to being at home and having an unknown offense that Cincinnati could have trouble preparing for. The offense struggles but shows some flashes, while the defense plays well and makes a few big plays to give Chicago a tight win.

Final score: Chicago Bears 20, Cincinnati Bengals 17

380 comments
natesweet
natesweet moderator

So I was wrong about It's Your Dime. Not going to be on til 10 central. I forgot we can't do prime time if we do not have a premium account. We will be going to prime time once we do.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

So, someone mentioned this at work and I found it funny. Peyton Manning threw 7 TDs in one game. The 2012 KC Chiefs threw 8 in a year.

aciddragon
aciddragon

Chi, Hou, and NYJ have single season TD pass records of 29, that is the lowest among all NFL teams 

0125
0125 moderator

Joe Fluko's is a lucky MOFO

Childerz...
Childerz...

Over under AP 4.5 ypc versus Detroit 

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth (knee) is listed as doubtful for Week 1 against the Bears.

RBB-DGAF
RBB-DGAF

Would you guys start Jordy Nelson, or Brian Hartline this week?

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@aciddragon 

Chicago is also one of only a few teams where the all-time leading rusher has more yards than the all-time leading passer.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

@RBB-DGAF I chose Jordy over Wes Welker in one league. He'd better not let me down.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@RBB-DGAF 

Jordy, no question.

Mike Wallace detracts from hartline.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@Lionskillpack Rodgers has shown the ability to spread the ball around.  Moreso than Tannehill.