Four Downs: Keys to beating the Bengals (09/08/13)

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Bengals receiver A.J. Green is an explosive playmaker the team will have to contain.
Bengals receiver A.J. Green is an explosive playmaker the team will have to contain.

A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

1. Get Matt Forte involved early

We’ll finally get our first taste of the Marc Trestman offense against a real opponent in a meaningful game when the Bears take the field Sunday. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty stiff test against a good defense. Like any good defense, the Bengals can’t get to Jay Cutler if he doesn’t have the ball for long. The offense needs to get Forte going early in both the run game and as a receiver out of the backfield. That should settle the offensive line in and give Cutler some early confidence.

2. Keep A.J. Green underneath

Green is one of the best young receivers in the NFL and he’s an explosive playmaker if left on an island in one-on-one coverage, or if he gets behind the defense on deep passing plays. The Bears cornerbacks have to funnel him inside and the safeties have to stay over the top. If Green’s going to beat them, the defense needs to make him beat them in bits and pieces, not by big plays.

3. A return to prominence from Devin Hester

Field position is obviously a big key against any opponent, but particularly against a good one who takes advantage of short fields. Hester was kept on this team despite a big salary and a reduced role because the team feels strongly that he can still make a difference in the return game. I concur. I think Hester still has the burst to turn a small seam into a gaping hole and if he can give the offense good starting position, it’ll bode well for their chances.

4. Take care of the football

An obvious key, but certainly one worth noting. The Bears have to win the turnover battle if they’re going to keep the Bengals within striking distance. That means no careless interceptions by Cutler, no fumbles by the ball carriers, and no blown opportunities by the defense to take away the ball.

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