Now that the Hall of Fame game is out of the way, we should get a better idea of Matt Nagy’s offense when the Chicago Bears visit the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. Several players who figure to be keys in the Bears offensive renaissance didn’t take the field in Canton, including Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard and newcomer Allen Robinson. They are expected to see some action on Thursday. While the Bears got a head start on the preseason, Nagy is still searching for his first win.
This duel in Week 1 of the preseason will go down Thursday, August 9, 2018, at 7 p.m. ET from Paul Brown Stadium.
NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu
Chicago Bears +2.5
Cincinnati Bengals -2.5
Despite being at a disadvantage in terms of games played this preseason, the Bengals opened as a 2.5-point favorite over the visiting Bears for their opener on Thursday. Chicago was spotted two points in last week’s Hall of Fame game and got a backdoor cover with a late touchdown. They nearly had the outright win but failed on the two-point conversion after scoring with less than three minutes remaining.
After sitting out against the Ravens last week Trubisky will get a series or two with the first-string offense. Backup Chase Daniel will also get some work as he looks to improve on his outing from last week. Daniel played the first half and completed 8 of 16 attempts for 53 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Tyler Bray had a nice second half against the Ravens throwing for 181 yards and a touchdown, but he couldn’t convert a critical 2-point conversion after the Bears’ final touchdown that would have given them the lead. And after the Bears got the ball back, Bray threw four consecutive incomplete passes in the two-minute drill.
With A.J. McCarron off to Buffalo, the Bengals have a battle for their backup quarterback between Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskell. Andy Dalton is the undisputed starter and will play at least one series on Thursday before giving way. Barkley has the NFL experience Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor covet, having played in 11 games with the Eagles and Bears.
Driskell has yet to play a regular season NFL game, but the Bengals are high on his ability. He was the team’s No. 3 last year and had a nice preseason completing two-thirds of his pass attempts for 164 yards and a touchdown without an interception. He’s been in the system so he will get a crack at beating out Barkley for the gig.
If the rest of the preseason is anything like what we saw in the Hall of Fame game, it’s going to be difficult for the Bears to get any continuity in their offense. But Nagy did deliver what he promised. The Bears threw the ball 50 times with 13 different players targeted and 10 players having at least one catch. Expect Nagy to tone things down a bit as the games progress and that first victory is an important one for the new coach.
The fact that Marvin Lewis is back is a surprise after two losing seasons. And his last two preseasons haven’t been good either with a 1-3 record each year. Overall Lewis has a 30-31 mark in exhibition games while playing below the total in nine of the last 12 outings.
Free ATS Pick
Nagy is a perfectionist and when he called his team’s play sloppy, it resonated throughout the locker room. With most of his starters on offense getting their first action on Thursday look for the game to be crisper. And there are no concerns on defense after they smothered the Ravens with eight sacks and a pair of interceptions.
The first preseason game always seems to be a bit sloppy and the Bears got theirs out of the way. I expect them to have more fluidity in their game on Thursday while the Bengals are still working out the kinks. That gives Chicago an edge and is enough for them to win the game outright.
NFL Odds: Bears 20, Bengals 16
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