The Bears have a head coach who is seeking a new start. The Bengals have a quarterback who is trying to start fresh after a rough preseason outing. Which way will these teams go in the regular season? First, they need to play this game and find out more about themselves.
What We Know About The Coaches
John Fox of the Bears is 30-24, 2-0 in this preseason, after beating Indianapolis 23-11 on Saturday. Fox is trying to collect as much information as he can about his new team. It’s one which isn’t nearly as talented as what he had on hand in Denver as the coach of the Peyton Manning-led Broncos. This is going to be an adjustment for Fox in Chicago, but in terms of preseason games, he’s winning.
Marvin Lewis of the Bengals is 26-25, 1-1 in this preseason, after losing to Tampa Bay on Monday night. Lewis is trying to get through to Andy Dalton about how to play the quarterback position better, but he’s failing. You have to give the edge to Fox in this matchup.
The Chicago Bears tried to shop Jay Cutler in the offseason, but couldn’t find a taker for him. The Bears are in deep trouble with Cutler, at least in all likelihood. They might get a surprise from the strong-armed quarterback, who is certainly talented enough to make it in the NFL and has led the Bears to a conference championship game appearance. However, Cutler just makes too many mistakes – it has always been his problem in the league, and until he becomes a more consistent thrower, the Bears are going to be at a deficit. Jimmy Clausen, who has been in the league for several seasons now and is no longer a young guy in any meaningful sense, backed up Cutler well a week ago in Indianapolis and led the Bears to multiple touchdowns in a victory. Clausen is playing against backups, but he’s doing what he’s supposed to do.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a mess with Dalton, one that’s in some ways not as bad as Cutler but which is in other ways worse. Dalton has been getting this team to the playoffs. He deserves that much credit. However, Cincinnati’s offense is so much more explosive than Chicago’s. Dalton has fast and skilled players all around him, a lot more than what Chicago can offer. Yet, he makes big mistakes in big games and is not advancing to the next level as an NFL quarterback. He threw two interceptions in under two minutes against Tampa Bay in the Bengals’ most recent preseason game. His bad habits give Chicago an improbable advantage at quarterback.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Bears will be noticeably thin at receiver, with draft pick Kevin White out and Marquess Wilson having injured himself against Indianapolis. Alshon Jeffery might not play, either – all those losses are at receiver.
The Bengals experienced injuries against Tampa Bay to linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and safety George Iloka. Cincinnati has the slight edge here.
Outlook & Pick
It’s only a preseason game, but Andy Dalton needs to get better. Because this is a preseason game, though, Dalton might attack this game like a regular season contest. That might give Cincinnati the overall advantage.