Bengals at Bears Picks and NFL Week 1 Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/12/2013
In my opinion, the Week 1 NFL schedule is pretty weak. Yes, it kicks off in tremendous fashion with the Thursday night opener between Super Bowl Champion Baltimore and Denver in a playoff rematch from last season. But do you realize there are only two other games featuring clubs that won at least 10 games in 2012? One of them is getting mostly overlooked, a 1 p.m. Eastern start from Chicago when the Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals.
While both the Bears and Bengals finished 10-6 and second in their respective North divisions in 2012, Cincinnati was a wild-card team while Chicago was the only 10-win club to miss the postseason. The Bears were an NFC Championship betting favorite after Week 9 when they pummeled the Tennessee Titans 52-20 to improve to 7-1. However, Chicago lost five of its next six as the offense struggled (again) and Jay Cutler regressed and was under siege behind a porous offensive line (again). Bears ownership was tired of watching the offense play like a 1950s team and fired head coach Lovie Smith, a defensive specialist. They made a fairly daring hiring hire by bringing in quarterback guru Marc Trestman, formerly an NFL offensive coordinator and most recently the head coach of some very good Montreal Alouette teams in the CFL. These won't be your father's Bears in 2013.
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I really didn't expect Cincinnati to reach the playoffs last year and figured head coach Marvin Lewis was a goner when the team was 3-5. However, the Bengals closed as one of the hottest teams in the NFL by winning seven of their final eight. It might have been fool's gold as only one of those wins was over a playoff team, and that was Baltimore in Week 17 in a meaningless game. Most starters on both sides either sat or played sparingly. For the second straight year, Cincinnati was offensively feeble in the wild-card round at Houston, this time losing 19-13.
Bengals at Bears Betting Story Lines
Not much to go on here head-to-head as the teams haven't played since Week 7 of the 2009 season when Cincinnati won 45-10 behind five touchdowns from Carson Palmer and a monster game from former Bear Cedric Benson. Both those guys are long gone.
Cincinnati and Chicago really emphasized offense in the offseason. The Bears were No. 28 in yards per game last year -- their points were misleading somewhat because of so many early defensive touchdowns -- and the Bengals No. 23. Cincinnati has the best receiver in the NFL not named Calvin Johnson in A.J. Green but not much else around QB Andy Dalton. So the Bengals drafted the top tight end in April's draft, Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert (one pick after Chicago surprised many by passing on him), and arguably the top running back in North Carolina's Gio Bernard. He won't start but should be a nice big-play option behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Chicago's main priority was the offensive line, which was probably the worst in football the past two years. The only starter from last year likely to stay put is center Roberto Garza. Former left tackle J'Marcus Webb will move to right tackle. First-round pick Kyle Long should start at right guard, while free-agent additions Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson will man the left side. Chicago gave up on former first-round pick Gabe Carimi, dumping him for just a sixth-rounder in 2014 to Tampa Bay. Carimi probably was going to be cut anyway. The team also added Jay Cutler a new weapon in tight end Martellus Bennett, who should help open the field for Brandon Marshall. He was terrific last year, but it often became clear Cutler wasn't looking anywhere else but him. The Bears were No. 29 in passing in 2012.
Defensively, the Bears will look mostly the same except at linebacker, where future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher retired. Aging Pro Bowler Lance Briggs will now be surrounded by free-agent signees D.J. Williams and James Anderson, both on one-year deals. Chicago also took two linebackers in April's draft who are the future at that position.
Bengals at Bears NFL Week 1 Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Bears are 3.5-point favorites with the total at 45. Cincinnati was 9-6-1 ATS last year (6-2 on road) and 6-10 “over/under” (4-4 away). The Bears were 7-9 ATS (3-5 at home) and 9-7 O/U (3-5 at home). The Bengals covered their final four road games of last regular season. Chicago covered just one of its final five games overall. The Bears failed to cover five of their final six home games.
Bengals at Bears Picks and NFL Week 1 Betting Predictions
This is the fourth straight year the Bears open the season at home, and they won the past three: 19-14 over Detroit in 2010 (thanks to a bad call on what looked to be a Calvin Johnson late TD catch); 30-12 against Atlanta in 2011 (two Urlacher defensive touchdowns); and 41-21 versus the Colts last year in Andrew Luck's NFL debut. The Bengals, meanwhile, where destroyed 44-13 at Baltimore in Week 1 last year. It was easily the team's worst game of the year.
Expect Chicago to be a bit out of rhythm this early in the season with an entire new coaching staff and offense (defensive scheme mostly the same), but I still think the Bears have better personnel overall. Take Chicago and the under.
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