While both teams are coming off 10-6 seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears are in very different places heading into their Week 1 matchup. The Bengals are coming off their second straight playoff berth and have the majority of their key components back. Chicago, however, has a new coaching staff and will open the season without Brian Urlacher on the roster for the first time since 1999.
The Bears will have the advantage of playing at home and opened as a four-point betting favorite, according to OddsShark. Home field advantage, however, didn't seem to matter much when NFL experts made their predictions. Six of the eight CBS Sports NFL analysts picked Cincinnati to pull the upset. When factoring in the 3.5-point spread, seven of the eight picked the Bengals.
While experts may be favoring the Bengals, most are expecting a close game. John Breech of CBS Sports predicted a defensive battle with Cincinnati coming out on top, 17-14. CBS senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco predicted an even closer game with the Bengals just edging out the Bears for a 24-23 victory. Here is what Prisco had to say about the matchup.
The Bengals have a tough road opener to show if they are truly legitimate as a Super contender, which I think they are. The Bears have a new coach in Marc Trestman, who should liven up the offense. The problem will be the Cincinnati pass rush here. They will get after Jay Cutler. A.J. Green will have a big day. The Bengals will earn a tough road victory.
ESPN NFL analysts are also giving Cincinnati the advantage with Mike Golic, Ron Jaworski, Seth Wickersham and Tom Jackson all picking Cincinnati. The Bengals do hold the historical edge with a 6-3 record against the Bears dating back to 1972.