The best thing that can be said heading into this weekend’s tough road game is that the Bears are 2-0 against the AFC North this season.
They beat the Steelers in week 3 at Soldier Field and then rookie QB Mitch Trubisky went on the road and led the Bears to a win in Week 6.
John Fox actually has more wins against the AFC (5) than the NFC North (3).
Maybe that bodes well for the Bears this weekend but not much else is going their way as they’ve now lost five straight.
SB Nation site: Cincy Jungle
Record: 5-7 (3rd AFC North)
Last week: 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football
Bears all-time record against: 4-6
Historical match ups: Not many classics between two teams that have met just 10 times in the past 45 years but the last time they played, it was a mini-shootout.
In Week one 2013, the Bears and Bengals combined for 519 passing yards as Chicago and their new coach Marc Trestman debuted with a win. Jay Cutler passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns, with 104 and a touchdown going to Brandon Marshall.
On the other side, Andy Dalton passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns with 162 yards and both touchdowns going to A.J. Green. Charles Tillman intercepted Dalton twice.
Injury report: The Bengals listed nine players on their Wednesday injury report.
- LB Vontaze Burfict did not participate due to a concussion
- CB Darqueze Dennard did not participate due to a knee injury
- CB Adam Jones did not participate due to a groin injury
- CB Dre Kirkpatrick did not participate due to a concussion
- RB Joe Mixon did not participate due to a concussion
- WR Jon Ross did not participate due to a shoulder injury (and was later moved to IR)
- LB Nick Vigil did not participate due to an ankle injury (also on IR)
- S Shawn Williams did not participate due to a hamstring injury
- S Brandon Wilson did not participate due to an ankle injury
Offense: The Bengals enter 24th in points scored, averaging 18.3 PPG and ranking 31st in yards per game.
Their passing game ranks 26th in yards and 10th in touchdowns. Andy Dalton (2,606 yds./20 TDs/8 INTs/92.9 rating) is having a typically solid season and throwing to a good group of playmakers.
Leading the way is of course A.J. Green (60 rec./886 yds./8 TDs) followed by Brandon LaFell (41/428/2), TE Tyler Kroft (33/347/5), Joe Mixon (27/266/0) and Giovani Bernard (21/238/2).
Strangely, the only team with fewer pass attempts than the Bengals is the Bears but Chicago has 43 more rushing attempts. In terms of time of possession per game the Bengals rank dead last in the league, two spots behind the Bears.
In terms of rushing attack, the Bengals are led by rookie Joe Mixon (157 att./518 yds./4 TDs) who is averaging 3.3 YPC. Behind Mixon is Giovani Bernard (47/198/0). With Jeremy Hill on injured reserve the only other rusher of note for the Bengals is QB Dalton (33/102/0).
Defense: As is usual with the Marvin Lewis Bengals, the defense is leading the way for Cincinnati, ranking 16th in yards and 10th in points allowed.
The Bengals have disparity in their pass/rush defense numbers as they come in being stout against the pass, ranking eighth in pass yards allowed but ranking 28th against the run.
If anyone was hoping the Bears would open up the passing game this week, those numbers don’t suggest that will be the case. Despite the tough passing numbers, opposing QBs have a collective 92.9 rating against them, good for 13th.
The Bengals have allowed sixth fewest passing touchdowns but rank 22nd in interceptions with just eight. They have allowed just four rushing touchdowns, good for seventh fewest.
The defense is led by Vontaze Burfict who leads the team in tackles (47) and has two pass defenses, one forced fumble and two sacks. Along the defensive line, they are headed by DT Geno Atkins (7 sacks), DE Carl Lawson (7), DE Carlos Dunlap (5.5) and DE Michael Johnson (3).
The Bengals like to use extra rushers, as evidenced by the five DBs and LBs that have at least one sack.
The unit’s eight interceptions have been grabbed by eight different players, so I won’t take the time to list each one individually. Second year CB Dre Kirkpatrick is one of those eight and he leads the team with nine pass defenses, followed by William Jackson with 8 PDs.
Key match ups: The Bears offensive line, minus Kyle Long is going to have to create running lanes for Jordan Howard against a defensive front that is statistically vulnerable.
Trubisky will need to take care of the football in order to put the offense in a position to score. Limit the turnovers, especially by cleanly getting those snaps, something we haven’t seen recently.
On defense Kyle Fuller will have to bring his A-game working against A.J. Green. Green gets his targets regardless of who is covering him and the Bears have seen Fuller get picked on by the opposition.
If Burfict is out of concussion protocol come Sunday, players will need to keep an eye on him and his “antics.”
What to watch for: Can the Bears get a big road win? As the losses stack up and the team continues to look unprepared and to run out a run, run, pass offense, then I’m running out of WTWF items.
The team isn’t good, the Bengals aren’t great but are talented enough to beat the Bears so it doesn’t appear this game is very winnable.
With a good day, Howard could pass the 100 yard threshold.
Key stats: The Bears have a better turnover margin than the Bengals (-3 to -6)
Expect a lot of punting: The Bears are dead last in offensive third down conversions while the Bengals are 29th.
The Bears have won just two of the five meetings between the teams.
The Bears are 2-7 in December under Fox.
Do you give the Bears any chance to win on Sunday?