Chicago Bears (0-1-0 SU, 1-0-0 ATS, 0-1-0 O/U) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0-0 SU, 0-0-0 ATS, 0-0-0 O/U)
When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 9, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7 p.m. EDT.
After back-to-back sub-.500 seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals look to get back into contention in the AFC North as they open their preseason schedule Thursday versus the Chicago Bears.
Bears open preseason slate with narrow loss to Ravens
Chicago (0-1) began the Matt Nagy era with a 17-16 loss to Baltimore last Thursday in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, to kick off the 2018 NFL season.
With starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky a spectator, third-string signal-caller Tyler Bray got a majority of the snaps and went 18 for 34 for 181 yards and a touchdown. Chase Daniel got the start and completed 8 of 16 passes for 53 yards and had both a touchdown and interception.
The most impressive offensive player for the Bears was wide receiver Javon Wims. The seventh-round pick had seven catches for 89 yards as he looks to find a spot on the team’s roster as a sixth wideout.
The Bears will spend the week hoping to get first-round pick and linebacker Roquan Smith into camp. Smith, the No. 8 overall selection and Wims’ teammate at Georgia, is the lone unsigned first-round pick of the 2018 draft as the two sides are reportedly at an impasse over protecting guaranteed money against potential fines from the NFL’s new lowering-the-helmet rule.
Despite’s Smith’s absence, the Bears turned in a credible performance defensively in recording eight sacks and forcing three turnovers. Chicago limited Baltimore to 194 yards and 2.9 yards per play.
Trubisky is expected to play at least one series in this game as the No. 2 overall pick from last year’s draft looks to build on his promising rookie campaign in which he threw for 2,193 yards and seven TDs with seven interceptions after taking over the starting role in the fifth game in 2017.
Lewis set for 16th season as Bengals’ coach
After five straight first-round playoff exits from 2011-15 that included a pair of division titles, the Bengals have slipped in the last two seasons and are coming off a third-place finish in 2017 in which they finished 7-9.
While there was some speculation Marvin Lewis would not return, he signed a two-year extension with the team in January, raising some eyebrows considering his 0-7 career playoff record with Cincinnati and the struggles the team endured the last two years.
Cincinnati returns much of its offensive core, notably quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. Dalton threw for 3,320 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, the latter a noticeable improvement on his total of 18 from 2016, he also threw 12 interceptions — four more than the previous season.
Green topped the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his seven seasons, finishing with team highs of 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns while staying healthy and playing all 16 games after being limited to 10 in 2016.
The intrigue for Cincinnati’s offense mainly revolves around who will be the No. 2 receiver. Last year’s first-round pick, John Ross, is healthy after appearing in just one game last year and one of three players along with Tyler Boyd and rookie Auden Tate looking to take the job that opened up after Brandon LeFell was cut Aug. 2.
Joe Mixon, who had 913 total yards last season as a rookie, will get the chance to be the No. 1 running back with Jeremy Hill gone, and Cincinnati’s offensive line got a new piece with Cordy Glenn coming over from the Buffalo Bills via trade.
Defensively, linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be available to play in the preseason but is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. Third-round pick Malik Jefferson likely will see extensive playing time in the preseason to prepare for this contingency while newcomer Preston Brown is expected to anchor the linebacking corps.
While there may not be much turnover in the secondary, second-round pick Jessie Bates from Wake Forest likely will get the chance to make an impression.
The Bengals are:
- 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall.
- The under is 7-3 in their last 10 home games.
- The under is 4-0-1 in their last five Thursday games.
The Bears are:
- 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games.
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven Thursday games.
- The under is 6-0 in their last six games.
- The under is 5-0 in their last five road games.