5 bold predictions for Bears’ home opener vs. Bengals

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It’s onward and upward for the Chicago Bears as they try to rebound from last week’s embarrassing 34-14 primetime loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Fortunately, they face a Cincinnati Bengals team that feels a bit less formidable than the previous opponent.

While they aren’t pushovers, they’re still a tier or two below the Rams in terms of class. Which means this week’s predictions might have a better shot of coming to fruition.

Here are five bold predictions for this week’s game against the Bengals.

Justin Fields gets his first touchdown pass

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We already saw the rookie quarterback run in a touchdown in Week 1. I'm going out on a limb to say he adds his first touchdown pass in Week 2. Fields only played five snaps against the Rams, but the Bears coaching staff indicated they had more plays ready to go for their prized rookie. Given the support he's had from players and coaches this week, such as offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, I expect him to see 10-plus snaps. With more snaps comes more opportunities to pass the ball and how cool would it be to have it happen in front of the home crowd? Fields still isn't getting the start, but he's going to get more playing time until it happens and this will only speed the clock up.

Marquise Goodwin catches a 40+ yard catch

AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

One of the more notable soundbites coming out of practice this week was from wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. The veteran pass catcher talked to the media and let out some frustrations with the game plan, where he and the other receivers didn't catch a pass farther than 15 yards against the Rams. I can't imagine that strategy is in play against the Bengals, giving Goodwin and the other receivers a better chance of breaking a big play. Goodwin is the obvious beneficiary of a more explosive passing attack, given his Olympic-level speed. With the Bengals secondary banged up, Matt Nagy is going to give Andy Dalton (and/or Justin Fields) the green light to take more chances. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and Goodwin is raring to burn some rubber on the Soldier Field turf.

The defensive line gets at least 3 sacks

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I know the defense was a major disappointment last week and though the secondary received the brunt of the criticism, the front seven wasn't devoid of blame either. Only taking down Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford once isn't good enough with the firepower on that defensive line. Luckily for them, they get a Bengals offensive line that surrendered five sacks in Week 1. This is certainly a "get right" matchup for players like outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. If nose tackle Eddie Goldman can get out there, that's an even bigger bump. Mack already embarrassed tackle Riley Reiff when he was with the NFC North. He'll have another chance to take him down yet again. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is going to have a tough time against this front, and I expect at least three sacks on the day.

Jaylon Johnson gets his first career interception

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For all the praise second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has received this offseason, would it surprise you to learn he still his looking for his first interception? Johnson's come close in the past, even narrowly missing a pick last week when he swatted a Stafford pass out of the air. Burrow was very good last week but I think he struggles a bit more in this game, leading to Johnson's first interception. The former Utah standout will have to make his chances count as he only had one target the entire game. While the other side of the defense is more suspect, Johnson's going to see a couple more looks with players like Tyler Boyd, Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins running routes for the Bengals all over the field. I think he takes advantage, particularly late in the game, to come up with the pick against one of them.

Cairo Santos kicks the Bears to victory

James Gilbert/Getty Images

Out of everything that happened in Week 1, the only area that really wasn't a factor was the kicking game. Cairo Santos only attempted two extra points and didn't line up for a field goal. It was very uneventful for the veteran kicker, but that's all about to change in Week 2. The Bengals already dealt with one dramatic game involving the kicking game last week, why not make it two in a row? Both teams will be tied late in the fourth quarter, before the Bears finally break away and set up the game-winning kick for Santos. He'll convert his 27th (or possibly more) kick in a row, dating back to week four of the 2020 season. It's going to be dramatic, but it's going to result in a victory. [listicle id=480948] [listicle id=480917] [listicle id=480899]

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