The Cincinnati Bengals hit the road for the first time this season for a showdown at Soldier Field on Sunday.
After a disappointing performance in prime time on Sunday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, the Bears will be looking to get on track. The Bengals want to build off the momentum they gained from the 27-24 overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings.
Here’s how the Bengals can secure a win and start the season 2-0:
Create explosive plays on offense
Prior to the Week 1 performance against the Rams, the Bears were known for their stout defensive play. Chicago’s secondary looked overmatched against Los Angeles and expect the Bengals to make note of it.
The Bears allowed 321 passing yards in their first game and quarterback Joe Burrow has the weapons surrounding him to replicate a similar type of performance. When Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase connected on the 50-yard touchdown play against the Vikings, the entire team was uplifted.
Expect the Bengals to test the Bears deep, early and often. Chicago allowed Los Angeles to connect on two plays for more than 50 yards and it ended up being the difference in the game. The team lost their best cornerback in free agency when Kyle Fuller was released and signed with the Denver Broncos.
Bring the heat on Andy Dalton
A familiar face to Bengals fans will be under center for the opposing team and that’s quarterback Andy Dalton.
The Bears have suffered significant injuries at the left tackle spot and the Bengals could expose this. Chicago lost two players to injuries at left tackle in the Week 1 game at Los Angeles. Keep an eye on this.
One of the main reasons the Bengals were successful against the Vikings was the pressure they created consistently on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Bears offensive line is one not a position of strength for their team right now and Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will continue to be aggressive with his pressure packages. The Bears allowed three sacks on Dalton against the Rams.
Have a plan for Justin Fields in the red zone
Chicago drafted rookie quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick in this year’s draft. While head coach Matt Nagy has repeatedly said Dalton is the starter, the pressure is on him and his staff for when they will hand over the reins of the offense to Fields permanently.
Nagy showed although Fields isn’t starting, he’s using him in the offense periodically. Fields threw two passes against the Rams and had one rushing attempt. Chicago’s first-round pick is known for his athleticism and ability to create problems with his feet when escaping the pocket.
The Bears likely put together specific packages for Fields this offseason, specifically in the red zone, to catch other teams by surprise. The Bengals can’t enter the game without a plan for how to defend Fields when he’s under center.