Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#273 Cincinnati Bengals vs.
#274 Chicago Bears
Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT
Soldier Field, Chicago
Written by Jordy

The past comes face-to-face with the present when Andy Dalton and the Chicago Bears go head-to-head with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals. After nine seasons, Dalton was shown the door in Cincy last year after the Bengals selected Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. So you have to believe he’ll be hell-bent on showing up his old team before the Bears make the move to replace him with rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears got mauled in their opener against the Los Angeles Rams, while the Bengals barely eked out an overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Line Movements & Weather

The Bears have gone from -4 down to -2 or -1.5, despite the sportsbook you frequent most with the Bengals grabbing 56% of the bets.

The OU line has gone from 45 down to 44.5 at most sportsbooks with the Over snatching up 60% of the bets.

Gametime Weather: Sunny skies with temps in the upper 70s

Pound it with the other Joe

It was the other Joe getting all of the work in the Bengals’ Week 1 opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Joe Burrow has so many toys at receiver that some forget about running back Joe Mixon coming out of the offensive backfield. Of course, he reminded everybody by running the ball down the Vikings’ throat with 29 rushes for 127 yards and one touchdown.

It served as somewhat of a statement that the Bengals are a legitimately well-rounded offense.

Just because Burrow is used to throwing the ball all over the field doesn’t mean that’s the strategy the team is going to implement from week to week. They ran against the Vikings, and in all likelihood, they’ll throw more against a Bears team with a better defensive front.

The questions for Chicago come on the backend after the team got carved up by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford for 321 passing yards and three touchdowns. Burrow is even more blessed at receiver with one of the best young trios in the league with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

So we could see the LSU version of Burrow airing it out on Sunday.

However, he won’t be seeing the LSU kind of results if the Bengals’ offensive line doesn’t do a better job of protecting him. Soldier Field is Khalil Mack’s hunting ground after all, and he’ll be looking to turn the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner into a pancake.

The Bengals defense did a tremendous job of stopping the run against a Vikings’ offensive backfield led by star running back Dalvin Cook. They managed to hold one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league to only 61 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 touches. That’s a win any day of the week.

The secondary is still a big question mark, but then again, Bears quarterback Andy Dalton is clearly in the twilight of his career. As long as Cincy wins up front, they’ll have a shot to take this game.

Injury Report

Out - DB Trae Waynes, DB Ricardo Allen, and DE Khalid Kareem

Questionable - LB Markus Bailey and WR Tee Higgins

How long will Dalton be “the guy?”

It’s no secret that Andy Dalton is merely the bridge option before the reins of the Bears offense are eventually handed over to rookie first-round draft pick Justin Fields. But how long is Dalton’s leash before coach Matt Nagy ultimately makes the move we all know is coming?

That’s the question everyone will continue to ask heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Bengals. If anything, a meet-up with his old team should bring out the best in Dalton. He’ll be facing a Cincy defense that got carved up like a Halloween pumpkin by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in their season opener.

Marquise Goodwin had a decent showing in his debut with the Bears, and former Pro Bowl wideout Allen Robinson did what he could with the Los Angeles Rams’ shutdown corner, Jalen Ramsey, draped all over him.

Robinson should be able to find success against the same Bengals defense that gave up the fourth-most passing yards per game last season.

Clearly, not much has changed with Cousins going 36-of-49 for 351 passing yards and two touchdowns against them last week.

But Khalil Mack and company have to get after the quarterback. There was a time when the Bears had one of the most feared pass rushes in the league. Considering the way the Vikings rag-dolled Burrow, Mack and company have no excuses for not being able to bring the heat in the pocket. Whether they can actually get home when doing so remains to be seen.

The Bears had several key names pop up on the injury report, including defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, offensive tackle Jason Peters, and linebacker Robert Quinn.

Injury Report

Out - OL Larry Borom, OL Teven Jenkins, LB Danny Trevathan, RB Tarik Cohen, and DL Mario Edwards Jr.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Not enough people are talking about Joe Mixon’s explosive season-opening performance—127 rushing yards and one touchdown. There has always been talk about the Bengals’ lead running back having an elite ceiling once he put the pieces together. At 25 years old, we could be looking at a player on the verge of a breakout season.

That’s one more thing the Bears will have to account for on the field against a Bengals team with a multitude of offensive playmakers. Cincy’s offensive line still looks like it’ll be a problem, but this isn’t the same Bears pass rush from the good old days. Matthew Stafford had all night to throw in the pocket against the Bears defense last Sunday night. It’s the same defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in average sacks per game last season.

Burrow having extra time to throw in the pocket will lead to lethal results for a Bears defensive backfield still licking its wounds from their Week 1 meltdown. Andy Dalton and the Bears' offense won’t look as bad as they did last week, but they also won’t be good enough to quell the boo birds clearly ready to see rookie Justin Fields take the reins.

There’s an explosive element missing from the offense that won’t last in a standoff with Burrow and the Bengals.

Give me the points and Cincy on Sunday.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5)

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rating:

The Bears gave up the fifth-most points of all teams in their Week 1 run-in with the Los Angeles Rams. They couldn’t generate any pressure up front, and their secondary got burnt to a crisp by the Rams passing offense. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have a ton of young, talented receivers to give the Bears the worst case of déjà vu they’ve ever had. They dropped 27 points on the Minnesota Vikings in a game where they leaned on the run game more than their passing attack. A possible breakout season for running back Joe Mixon makes the Bengals’ offensive versatility terrifying. I’m taking the over in this one.

Prediction: Over (45)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.