It is the first of sixteen guaranteed game previews that will occupy this space and I've never been so happy to write anything. So...
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
I ALWAYS LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS
BUT WHAT FOOTBALL REASONS, JEFF?
- If you're Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer, what offensive film are you studying this week? Do you break down the tape of the Trestman/Gannon Raiders? Do you look at the CFL film to see what attack Trestman had Anthony Calvillo execute? Do you put any serious consideration into the plays run this preseason? This will be the most general defensive approach the Bengals take all season long because there's no way to know what they're going to see.
- After Kelly and Haynesworth signed deals to make them zillionaire defensive tackles, their quality of play slipped. Is the reason motivation? Will Geno Atkins continue the trend?
- Where is the player on the Bengals defense who can contain Matt Forte in the screen game? I can't find him on the roster.
- I like the way James Harrison plays football. I think the NFL needs people like Harrison around. But his position change can not be understated. It is a difficult transition and I would expect a three or four-week period is necessary for him to feel comfortable.
- Either you believe in Kyle Long and Jordan Mills or you don't. I do. And the two rookies on the right side know they (1) have something to prove in real non-preseason action and (2) can prove it against top shelf competition on opening day in front of the home fans. I expect an intense, angry performance from both.
- Bears are better at QB, RB, overall depth of WR, LB, secondary and specials. In that scenario they should not lose at home.
DA BEAR CONCERNS
- Bears concern #1: the 2012 Cincinnati Bengal were a wonderful road team, finishing the regular season at 6-2. Even though there road schedule was almost painfully easy they did win at Washington to open the season and at Pittsburgh in December. They won't be intimidated by their surroundings.
- Bears concern #2: the middle of the defense. I'd expect Jay Gruden to test the new Bears linebackers - Bostic, Williams, Anderson - in coverage and unleash both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Even when Urlacher was at full strength the Bears were susceptible to tight ends up the seam. It won't get better Sunday.
- Bears concern #3: Giovani Bernard screens. I expect the Bears pass rush to explode onto Soldier Field Sunday but Bernard has that Sproles-like explosiveness capable of turning a bail out screen into a fifty-yard touchdown. Again, the pressure slides to the rebuilt linebacking corps.
THE MATCH-UP OF REMARKABLE IMPORTANCE
Peanut Tillman vs. A.J. Greene
- With Hawkins injured the Bengals passing game will be significantly reliant upon their all-worLd WR Greene to dominate on the outside. Lovie Smith (for the most part) lined up Tillman on one side of the field and Jennings/other corner on the other and left them there. Will Mel Tucker follow suit or will he stick his best on their best and let the best man win?
From Andrew Hawkins:
"I probably wouldn’t be in the NFL had I not had the opportunity to play for him," Hawkins said via the Chicago Sun-Times. "He taught me how to be a professional — about my work, my attitude. I’ve said it numerous times: I thank God for the opportunity to play under him, because I don’t think I’d be where I am today without him."
Hawkins played two seasons for the Montreal Alouettes (2009-10) under Trestman, posting 41 receptions, 457 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Their relationship is further documented in Mark Potash's posting, which also reflects the receivers' perspective on his current head coach Marvin Lewis in comparison to his former mentor.
‘‘I have a great coach in Marvin Lewis — he lights a fire under you. He wants to motivate you verbally and get you to go out there and get things done. That’s a great way to do it. With Marc, what’s so unique about him is you’re not used to seeing that style in a football setting. He doesn’t raise his voice very much. He tells you exactly what he wants in the same tone. He’ll tell you you’re wrong in the same tone he tells you ‘Great job.’ It’s unique. I think it works. You buy into it. I think you don’t have a choice but to buy into it because it’s proven.’’
THE MOST INTERESTING PLAYER ON THE FIELD
- Devin Hester. Some people out there - fans, bloggers, media types - believed Hester was on the roster bubble for 2013. I never believed he was and people I spoke with told me, without pause, "Hester is viewed as a weapon by the organization". Hester's touches Sunday will be the most interesting of the afternoon. Is it still there? Is the ability to electrify a city with the mere act of catching a punt still there? Imagine if Hester takes one to the house Sunday. The shock waves it would send through the league...
THIS VIDEO HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOTBALL...
A SINGLE STAT PREDICTION
- Neither team rushes for 100 yards.
WRAPPING IT UP IN ONE SENTENCE...
- Both the Bengals and Bears defenses will control this game but the Bears are at home and will win the field position battle due to a resurgent performance from Hester.
Chicago Bears 20, Cincinnati Bengals 13