Home is where the heart is, and when the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears clash in the NFL preseason, it’s also where the victories are accumulated. The home team has won three in a row and seven of the last eight meetings between these two clubs. The Bengals are a perfect 4-0 at home in preseason play against the Bears, and have proven dominant, winning those four games by an average margin of 14 points. The Bears are 3-1 at home in the preseason against the Bengals.
No Offense – Based on their respective outputs from the 2017 NFL season, you should probably not look for a lot of excitement in this game. Just three teams in the NFL gained under 300 yards per game last season, and these were two of them. The Chicago offense was 30th overall in the NFL and last in the NFC, averaging 287.4 yards per game. The Bengals were 32nd overall, dead last in the league, producing just 280.5 yards of offense per game in 2017. Only three teams averaged fewer yards per play than the Bengals (4.8).
To Err Is Human – It didn’t get much better when these two teams went to the air. Chicago was at the very bottom of the NFL in passing offense at 175.7 yards per game. They were last in the NFC with a paltry 291 completed passes, an average of 18.1 per game. The Bears and the Indianapolis Colts deadlocked for last in the league with 13 TD passes. The Bengals were 27th overall in passing offense, gaining 195.1 yards per game through their aerial attack.
Be Like Jordan – One of the few bright spots for the Chicago offense last season was the performance of second-year running back Jordan Howard. He ran for 1122 yards, clearing the 1000-yard barrier for the second successive season. He scored nine touchdowns and fumbled just once. In the win over the Bengals. Howard carried 22 times for 147 yards and two TDs. That works out to 6.4 yards per carry. He was sixth in the NFL in rushing and gained the most yards on the ground for a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
Go Under – You’ll most certainly want to strongly consider placing a wager on the under on the total for this game. In their last eight preseason meetings, the Bears and Bengals have combined for an average total of just 34.3 points. They’ve combined for 30 or fewer points more often (four games) than they have gone over 40 points (three games). And they’ve never managed to add up to a final total higher than 45 points. Six times during those eight games, at least one team was held to a solitary touchdown.
Dalton Gangrene – Remember when Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was in charge of the one of the NFL’s more competent and well-rounded offensive schemes? Well, whatever happened to the Dalton Gang? Receiver A.J. Green still does his part. He was 12th in the NFL in receiving yardage (1078) and his eight touchdown catches tied him for eighth in the league. He’s the only receiver in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons, but his 67.4 yards per game last season were a career low.
Bearly Scoring – The Bears were 29th in the NFL in scoring offense, putting up an average of 16.5 points per game. Chicago’s inability to put points on the board was well documented. The Bears went through a trio of kickers during the 2017 NFL season and their leading scorer was Howard, who totalled 54 points from nine touchdowns. The Bears were held to less than 20 points in 10 games and to fewer than 10 points on two occasions.
The Letter – Like the huge 1967 hit for the Box Tops, one letter made a world of difference for the Bears in 2017. Housed in the NFC North, they went 0-6 in head-to-head meetings with their division rivals. But when the opponent came from the AFC North, the Bears turned into Monsters of the Midway, going 4-0. Besides their 33-7 rout of the Bengals, Chicago toppled the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17, downed the Cleveland Browns 20-3 and edged the Baltimore Ravens 27-24. Against other NFL teams, the Bears were a collective 1-11.
This Much Is Trubisky – For the Bears to take a quantum leap up the standings, No. 2 must prove he is worthy of No. 1. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the second player chosen in the 2017 NFL Draft, endured a trying rookie campaign. He ended up 28th in the NFL in both passing yardage (2913) and passer rating (77.5). The latter was the lowest number posted by any returning starter. New Bears coach Matt Nagy was coordinator of Kansas City’s fifth-ranked offense, so we’ll what improvements he can make in his QB.
Hello Mr. Robinson – The Bears hope to help out Trubisky and beef up their woeful receiving corps through the addition of former Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. It’s truly a roll of the dice. Robinson was dominant in 2015, catching 80 balls for 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns. But he shredded his ACL in the opener of the 2017 season, and hasn’t played since. The Bears are confident Robinson will be ready to go from the start of preseason play, but will he still be a difference maker?
Sophomore Uptick – Is there such a thing as a rookie jinx? If so, does that mean the players who go through that downturn won’t be afflicted by the dreaded sophomore jinx? Wide receiver John Ross, selected ninth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, played just 17 snaps as a rookie, earning a benching when he failed to finish a route in a Nov. 14 game against Tennessee. When it came to a running attack, things were equally dismal. Fellow rookie Joe Mixon led the Bengals with 626 yards, good for 60th overall in the NFL.
He’s Out – In what’s becoming a habit, the Bengals will begin another NFL season minus linebacker Vontaze Burfict. He’s suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance enhancement substances policy. Burfict missed the first three games of the 2017 for an illegal hit on Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman during a preseason game. He sat out the first three games in 2016 for an accumulation of violations of the player safety rules. Burfict has also been fined $303,637 during his career.