Bears fans, it is finally here. Week 1 of the 2013 season has now begun and the Bears get to go head to head in their home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. For our weekly edition of 5 Questions, I contacted our friend Jason Marcum at Stripe Hype and asked him a few questions about the Bears week 1 opponent Cincinnati Bengals.
Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) on the sidelines during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT
Do you feel that the Bengals being featured on Hard Knocks will help or hurt the team opening day?
For opening day it will, but not because they’ll come into the game overconfident, but more so because the Bears will be more fired-up to beat the Bengals, who clearly believe they are Super Bowl contenders, so a win over them would be a tremendous confidence boost for Chicago as new head coach Marc Trestman begins his tenure.
Do you think Rookie Kyle Long has a chance against Geno Atkins?
December 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws a shovel pass as he is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) at Paul Brown Stadium. Dallas won the game 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe if Atkins is too busy counting his money after his $55 million extension he just signed. In all seriousness, Long doesn’t have any chance on his own, but few guards in the NFL can slow Atkins down blocking him one-on-one.
The key will be how effective they double-team him, or even chip him and run plays away from his side. It’s easier to work around an interior lineman like Atkins, and with Trestman being the offensive guru he is, I’m sure he’ll have a good game-plan on working around Atkins.
But in those few occurrences where Atkins gets to go one-on-one with Long…..We might see Butt Fumble 2.0.
How much action do you think Rookies RB Giovani Bernard and TE Tyler Eifert will see?
Aug 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) makes a catch while being defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (30) in the second quarter of a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Very interesting question. Eifert was almost non-existent during the preseason. Was that by design in order to keep the Bears from being prepared for him come Week 1, or is Eifert not quite ready to make the kind of impact everyone believes the All-American out of Notre Dame will eventually make in the NFL?
I’d say he has a solid day to the tune of 4-5 catches and 50-70 receiving yards, but he won’t be gashing the Bears for big plays like many people believe he will.
I do think Bernard will have an impact, but it won’t be running straight at the vaunted Bears front-7. It will be as a receiver out of the backfield and on outside runs that force Lance Briggs to show he still has the legs to move sideline-to-sideline as good as any LB in the league.
Overall, I don’t see either having a big impact Sunday, but do expect them to play significant roles in keeping the offense moving consistently.
What is the Bengals most favorable and unfavorable matchup against the Bears?
The Atkins-Long matchup is by-far the Bengals most favorable matchup, and if big Geno can get enough penetration into the Bears backfield consistently, he’ll disrupt the Bears offense all-day and keep Jay Cutler pushing his o-lineman like a real “tough guy”.
Our offensive line is at a huge disadvantage vs. the Bears’ d-line. Pro Bowl offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, and after he didn’t play this entire preseason, it’s easy to question if he’s ready to go against the likes of Julius Peppers and the rest of the Bears’ pass-rushers.
But the word as of late is he won’t play Sunday, and that will leave backup Anthony Collins to get his first start in two years against Julius Peppers.
As if that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen, Clint Boling will likely be one-on-one with Henry Melton. That’s not quite as big as mismatch as the Atkins-Long one, but it’s still a big concern for the Bengals. I see the Bears front-7 controlling this game early and often.
What is your prediction for the game, including a final score?
Again, the Bears defensive line will win the battle of the trenches more so than the Bengals d-line over the enigmatic Chicago o-line. If you love defensive line play, you’ll be in heaven watching this game.
That being said, the banged-up Bengals o-line can’t protect Andy Dalton and the offense bogs-down and can’t function with a fierce pass-rush and a rocking Bears crowd keeping their offense out of sync the entire game.
The Bengals defense does an admirable job holding the Bears offense down, but Matt Forte makes just enough plays to help Chicago squeak-out a narrow 20-17 victory that’s really not as close as the final score indicates.
Be sure to check out Stripe Hype to find out more about the Chicago Bears’ Week 1 opponent.