4 key matchups to watch as Bears face Bengals in Week 2

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for their Week 2 home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, where there are a slew of matchups that will go a long way in determining whether the Bears can earn their first win of the season.

Following an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, there are plenty of concerns on both offense and defense. While the Bears won’t be playing the Rams’ high-powered offense again, they’re going to need to rebound to keep Cincy’s offensive weapons at bay. On offense, we’ll see if Matt Nagy will open things up downfield, where there are opportunities to exploit a weakness in the Bengals’ secondary.

Here are four matchups to watch as the Bears head into their Week 2 game against the Bengals.

Bears RB David Montgomery vs. Bengals run defense

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest keys on offense for Chicago is to get the run game going with David Montgomery, who totaled 108 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in last week's loss. The Bears offense established a balanced attack that allowed them to sustain drives and should've been enough to open up the downfield passing attack (more on that later). While the Bengals run defense did a decent job containing one of the league's best in Dalvin Cook (held to 61 yards rushing for a 3.1 average) in last week's win, Montgomery presents some problems. Montgomery leads the NFL with 5.1 yards after contact (81 of his 108 yards were after after contact), where only one other player had more than 2.8. Montgomery is also the league's second-leading rusher behind only Cincy's Joe Mixon.

Bears pass rush vs. Bengals offensive line

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Before the start of the season, it was a fact that Chicago's defense would go as far as their pass rush carried them, given the concerns in the secondary. The Bears had a single sack in their loss to the Rams in Week 1, where defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and outside linebacker Robert Quinn shared it, and they failed to get pressure on Stafford. Heading into this Week 2 contest against the Bengals, the Bears need their edge rushers to step up. Joe Burrow was sacked five times by the Vikings, which certainly presents opportunities for Chicago's two highest-paid players, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, to bring the pressure on Burrow and help alleviate the pressure on the secondary, who will have to contend with the likes of Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd. But Burrow was able to pick apart Minnesota's defense despite being sacked five times, so the Bears are going to need a consistent pass rush to keep him in check.

Bears WR Darnell Mooney vs. Bengals CB Eli Apple

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

If there's an area of weakness on the Bengals defense for the Bears offense to exploit, it's at cornerback. CB1 Trae Waynes will be held out of this matchup as he nurses a hamstring injury, which leaves Cincy with Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple as their starters on the outside. Apple was picked on by the Vikings often, where he allowed a touchdown, had a missed tackle on 3rd-and-24 and had a costly penalty. Assuming the Bears actually attempt a pass longer than 10 yards this week, look for them to target Apple, which could open up Bears wideout Darnell Mooney, who had a quiet Week 1 with five catches for 26 yards against the Rams. If Chicago can open up their downfield passing game, Mooney -- or whoever is lined up against Apple -- could be in for a big day.

Bears NCB Marqui Christian/Duke Shelley vs. Bengals WR Tyler Boyd

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

The Bears were abused in the slot last week against the Rams, where Marqui Christian surrendered five catches on six targets for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Duke Shelley was a surprise scratch, but that figures to change following Christian's Week 1 performance. Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said Christian and Shelley are continuing to compete at the nickel corner spot, so the position is far from settled. Whoever lines up in the slot -- and it could very well be a rotation -- will be tasked with defending Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd, who had a modest outing against the Vikings with three catches for 32 yards. With Rams wideout Cooper Kupp finding success in the slot -- who was targeted a team-high 10 times -- look for Cincy to attempt to exploit that matchup with Boyd. [listicle id=480797] [listicle id=480751] [listicle id=480616]

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