Week 1: Bengals-Bears matchup analysis

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
*Keys to the game: The Bears spent good money to boost the cast around quarterback Jay Cutler for the second consecutive offseason, but still wind up with two rookie offensive linemen manning the right side in guard Kyle Long and tackle Jordan Mills. Long will have help against three-technique Geno Atkins, who has 20 sacks the past two seasons. Cutler will challenge the Bengals' man-coverage scheme, but swing passes to RB Matt Forte will force Cincinnati to commit to containing him on the edge. WR Brandon Marshall, who had his fourth 100-catch season in 2012, has been slow to recover from hip surgery. If the Bengals take him away, Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett aren't accustomed to featured roles. The Bengals have new toys of their own with rookie RB Giovani Bernard and TE Tyler Eifert figuring prominently behind starters BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Jermaine Gresham. WRs A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu will be mindful of ball protection against the Bears' turnover-mad secondary.
*Matchup to watch - Bengals WR A.J. Green vs. Bears CB Charles Tillman: Tillman isn't Darrelle Revis, but he shows up against elite talents like Calvin Johnson and Green. Tillman led the NFL with three interception returns for touchdowns last season.
*Player spotlight - Bengals LT Anthony Collins: Pro Bowl-caliber Andrew Whitworth is doubtful, forcing natural right tackle Collins into duty. He draws a tough hombre in Julius Peppers, who has 22.5 sacks the past two seasons.
*Fast facts: The Bears were plus-20 in turnover margin last season and had nine interceptions by nine different players in the preseason. ... Cutler's teams are 26-1 when his passer rating is 100 or higher. ... The Bengals are 4-1 all-time at Chicago.
Cincinnati's defense is underappreciated, but the matchups favor the Bengals in a coming-out party at Jay Cutler's expense.
*Our pick: Bengals 23-13

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