NFL News - October 19th, 2009 - Written by John
It appeared that the Cincinnati Bengals were in the middle of one of those seasons. The kind that defies explanation and leaves the coach at the podium smiling with their hands in the air. In three games, the Bengals had overcome underdog status to beat the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens with late-inning rallies and found themselves atop the AFC North for the first time in three years.
They finally came back to earth last week, however, losing to the Houston Texans by 11 without any heroics. They are tied with Pittsburgh in the division now and try to get back on track this week against the Chicago Bears.
They are favored by 2 1/2 points at home with an even -110 payout both ways, according to BetUS. The over/under is at 43 1/2 after neither team scored more than 17 points in Week Six.
Chicago was beaten by Atlanta on Sunday Night Football, 21-14, when Jay Cutler was unable to convert on 4th-and-6 deep in Falcons' territory with 24 seconds left. The fact that the Bears have only won convincingly once this year (against Detroit) has Bears' fans tossing in their sheets after unloading a hefty ranson to acquire Cutler. He has been pedestrian since being traded to the Bears last off-season. He hasn't sniffed 400 yards passing, which he did twice last year, and only has two 300-yard games. His second was against Atlanta, needing only 10 drives to achieve exactly 300 yards, but he was picked off twice. The Bears are only averaging 23 points per game and are 26th in the NFL in total offense.
Chicago hasn't been able to maintain a consistent rushing attack, either. Matt Forte only had 23 yards last week and as a team, the Bears only ran for 83. Forte has only one 100-yard game this year, coming against the Lions, and is slipping from the ranks of the elite.
Meanwhile, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Cedric Benson. The running back has become reborn with the Bengals after sputtering in Chicago. In his 3 1/2 years with the Bears, he only ran for 100 yards five times, but has already done it twice this year. He is third in the league in rushing yards and has four touchdowns.
Chad Ochocinco has also seen a reemergence in his play. With the departure of T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Ochocinco leads the team in receptions (29), yards (455) and touchdowns (3).
History gives a cloudy outlook for this game. For instance, the Bengals are 4-0 SU and 3-1 in their past four games against NFC North teams. But they are 1-9-1 ATS in their past 11 home games in October. They won their only meeting with the Bears since 2002, picking off Kyle Orton five times en route to a 24-7 win in 2005. That year, they finished 11-5 and made their only playoff appearance this decade. To find out even more about the games happening this weekend, check out our Week 7 Game Previews.
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