Both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Chicago Bears have high aspirations this season. The Bears are hoping their revamped coaching staff brings a return to the playoffs while the Bengals are hoping to take the next step and be one of the top AFC contenders this season.
While it is only the first game of the season, this game will be a good starting point for both teams.
That being said, here are five things to watch for in the Bears’ season opener.
- Right Side of the Offensive Line: The Bears have two rookies starting on the right side of the offensive line in Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. The Bengals front seven is one of the best in the NFL and likely will test the right side of the Bears’ offensive line early and often. If Long and Mills can withstand the attack, it will be a good starting point for the two rookies.
- Will Jonathan Bostic start?: Despite the fact that Bostic started all four games for the Bears this pre-season at the middle linebacker position, veteran D.J. Williams was listed as the starter on Tuesday. Williams missed the entire pre-season with a calf injury and returned to practice on Monday. No word on who will start, but if it is Bostic, expect the Bengals’ offense to target the rookie middle linebacker.
- Brandon Marshall: After causing a stir within the local media last week, Brandon Marshall returned to the team on Monday and all was bliss once again. Marshall struggled in his last pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders and issues about his hip surfaced. Marshall will play Sunday and it will be interesting to see how his hip impacts his performance if at all.
- New-Look Offense: The Chicago Bears west coast offense under head coach Marc Trestman has been the center of attention. The offense performed well against the Raiders in the pre-season, but Bengals possess one of the best defenses in the league. This will be the first test for the Bears new look offense.
- Adjustments: The Bears offense is going to struggle at one point against the Bengals, it will be interesting to see if the Bears offense adjust to those struggles. Adjustments are a crucial part to any NFL game, and this will be the first opportunity to see how Trestman and his coaching staff make in-game adjustments.