Week 1 sees the Bengals visiting a good Bears team that went 10-6 in 2012, but went through a lot of offseason change. Gone is Lovie Smith and his defense first approach. In is the offensive guru Marc Trestman and his two Grey Cup trophies. Gone is the orange barrel known as J’Marcus Webb, and in is a solid LT in Jermon Bushrod. I think this will be a good Bears team in 2013, but getting to play them in their first game under a new coach (even if it is on the road) has to give the Bengals an advantage.
With that said Bengals fans, this is a very good Bears team, and a loss on the road to the Bears would not be reason for panic.
When the Bears Run the Ball:
The Bengals ranked 12th in 2012 against the rush and should be as good or better in 2013 with the experience of Burfict and the addition of Harrison. The Bears had the 10th ranked rushing attack in 2012, but that is a meaningless stat since the Bears OL has 4 new starters and the team has a new coach with an entirely different coaching philosophy. Trestman is known for building high paced, exciting offenses and getting great play from his quarterbacks. However, the “traditional” run game is not what he is known for. In fact, in his 5 the CFL, his RBs ranked 9th, 1st, 6th, 6th and 3rd respectively.
That actually looks really good…until I tell you there are only 8 teams in the CFL. However, Trestman uses the short pass and screen pass as an effective substitute to the run game (think New Orleans and Sproles), and Forte can be very dangerous in the screen game. With an aggressive defensive line like the Bengals have, look for Trestman to try and use their aggression against them and litter the playbook with screens early and often.
If the Bengals defense stays disciplined and shows they can stop the screen, this will take away a dangerous dimension of the Bears offense. However, if the Bengals aggression catches them up field without accounting for Forte, it could be a long day for the Stripes and a field day for Forte.