NFL Football: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 19, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 1 p.m. ET, Sept. 19, 2021
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Where to watch: FOX

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Bears -2.5; O/U 45.5; Bears -155, Bengals +135
BetMGM: Bears -3; O/U 45; Bears -149, Bengals +125
Caesars: Bears -3; O/U 45; Bears -150, Bengals +130

Season record
Bengals: 1-0
Bears: 0-1

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Bengals - Bears preview and analysis


Recent form
Bengals: won 27-24 (OT) vs. Vikings on Sept. 11
Bears: lost 34-14 at Rams on Sept. 11

Is it Justin Fields week? Maybe? Has to be. But is it also Revenge Week for Andy Dalton?

The Chicago Bears could go a multitiude of ways in Week 2 after laying an egg in SoFI Stadium on Sunday. But whichever quarterback gets the start for Chicago, they’ll be welcoming a fired-up Cincinnati Bengals team that had an impressive home win in Week 1.

This would be Dalton’s first meeting against the Bengals, the team that drafted him in the second round back in 2011 out of TCU. Dalton signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 and was eventually the starter for the final 11 games following starter Dak Prescott’s ankle injury. Even though the record books show the NFC East was hot garbage, Dalton kept Dallas in the race until the very end in Week 17.

He signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Bears this offseason to be the presumptive starter, but then the Bears drafted Fields, the Ohio State quarterback, with the 11th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Bears coach Matt Nagy has chosen to stick with the veteran over the rookie, even though both played against the Rams. Dalton went 27-of-38 for 206 yards and an interception in a 34-14 loss against the Los Angeles Rams. Fields completed both of his passes for 10 yards, but also ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Fields looked great in the preseason, but Nagy prefers the conventional approach. Whether or not that costs him his job is the real question.

But the young Bengals will bring a challenge for this Chicago team, as will the Bears presenting a challenge for this young offense. Joe Burrow returned after his rookie season abruptly ended due to injury and looked great throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-24 overtime thriller against the Minnesota Vikings at home.

One of those went to his former LSU teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, whom the Bengals selected with the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft. Chase had some drops early, but the star receiver caught five passes for 101 yards and that 50-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

The biggest concern for the Bengals is how their pass defense will hold up after letting Kirk Cousins torch them for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Cincy’s run defense did a tremendous job holding Dalvin Cook to only 61 yards on 20 carries, but if Dalton or Fields get enough time to throw, it could spell trouble for the Bengals’ secondary should the pass rush be unable to get some traction on the Bears’ offensive line. The Rams got to Dalton three times.

Prediction


There were moments Burrow looked shaky after that long layoff, but he looked really good for the most part. Cincinnati may not be quite there yet with Burrow, but he’s going to be a rough out for some teams. Chicago’s secondary was torched by Matthew Stafford, which shouldn’t be a shock considering it’s a Sean McVay-coached Rams team, but for Stafford to do that with no preseason action is a tad alarming for the Bears. In another close game, the Bengals get it done. Bengals by 5.

Betting trends


The Bengals are 16-16 against the spread in their last two seasons, and 5-3 ATS against non-conference teams.

The Bears are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven as a home favorite, and 3-10 as a favorite ATS in their last 13.

Players to watch


Bengals: Joe Mixon showed once again why he might be one of the most underrated backs in the league, running for 127 yards and a touchdown against a usually-stout Minnesota front four. He added 23 yards through the air.

Bears: Allen Robinson saw a lot of Jalen Ramsey on Sunday, which is why he was held to 35 yards on six catches. The Pro Bowler was targeted 11 times. Expect a heavy dose of Robinson on the outside in this one.

Statistical leaders


Bengals:
Passing: Joe Burrow -- 261 yards, 2 TD
Rushing: Joe Mixon -- 127 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Ja’Marr Chase -- 101 yards, 1 TD
Defense: B.J. Hill -- 2 sacks

Bears:
Passing: Andy Dalton -- 206 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: David Montgomery -- 108 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Marquise Goodwin -- 45 yards
Defense: Roquan Smith -- 11 tackles

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