The Bengals host the Bears on Sunday, in a matchup of two teams that rarely face each other. The last time they did, the Bengals lost a close one at Soldier Field.
This time around, Cincinnati hosts Chicago, as both teams have struggled in 2017. Here are the top facets the Bengals need to achieve if they want to grab their sixth win of the year in Week 14.
Frustrate Mitchell Trubisky:
Pretty easy here. A rookie quarterback going up against a defense tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks? The No. 2 overall pick has a tough hill to climb to get a win at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati’s defense needs to get after the rookie to force him to make mistakes. He’s only thrown five touchdowns against four interceptions in eight starts, so Cincinnati could get into his head in this one.
Playing into Trubisky’s favor is that many Bengals defenders have been ruled out for the matchup, including Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Vontaze Burfict, Shawn Williams and Nick Vigil. Yeah, those guys are all starters. So, there will be a lot of inexperienced guys roaming the field on Sunday.
Let Mike Nugent be Mike Nugent:
The kicking situation in Cincinnati has been tenuous over the past handful of years. Randy Bullock has done relatively well this season, even with his limited 15 field goal attempts.
Nugent made a number of big kicks for the Bengals in his seven seasons with the club. He also missed a number of big ones, and has bounced between the Cowboys and Bears since being let go late last season by the Bengals. There’s a chance he gets a little nervous to be back in Cincinnati, where some of his demons reside.
The backups need to play well:
Monday night was an absolute bloodbath for both the Steelers and the Bengals. 6 starters have been ruled out and others are questionable, including Geno Atkins.
So, while it seems odd to say that backup players need to be the ones who step up in a contest, the Bengals will be relying on a number of players down the depth chart pecking order. If Cincinnati wants to achieve their sixth win of the year,
Channel the frustrations from Monday night into productivity:
If the people in that locker room aren’t upset about what transpired on Monday night, they sure as heck should be. The best way to get over a loss is to take it out on the very next opponent.
If the Bengals end up playing the way they do at 1 p.m. on Sundays and take out their anger on the Bears, they could really take it to Chicago. Doing so would barely keep them in the very fluid AFC playoff picture.
Play every second of the 60 game minutes:
If there’s one major lesson to be taken from Bengals players this year, it’s to finish out games. Whether it was the overtime loss to the Packers, or the last-second heartbreakers to the Titans and Steelers, Cincinnati just hasn’t found ways to beat good teams when hanging on to a lead.
The Bears are struggling at 3-9, but they did beat Pittsburgh earlier in the season. It’s possible that Cincinnati gets a sizable lead in this one, so if they do, they need to keep their feet on the gas pedal in an effort to keep their extremely thin playoff hopes alive.