Get the keys to the game, rankings and the latest personnel news.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
CBS, Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross
SERIES: 8th meeting. Bengals lead the Bears 4-3. The Bengals have played other long-standing teams Washington and the Giants seven times each, too. The Bengals lead 3-1 at Chicago, and the Bears lead 2-1 in Cincinnati. The teams have not met in Chicago since 1992 when the Bengals won 31-28 in overtime on Sunday night. The last meeting was in 2001, when the Bears won 24-0 at Paul Brown Stadium.
2005 RANKINGS: Bengals: offense 1st (4th rush, 3rd pass); defense 23rd (9th rush, 25th pass). Bears: offense 28th (11th rush, 28th pass); defense 7th (11th rush, 10th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals have used a very simple formula to jump out to a 2-0 record: get a big early lead and take advantage when the opposing offense is forced to pass. Cincinnati has a 36.27 time of possession edge, and the defense has capitalized with 10 takeaways.
But Chicago will come out with a heavy dose of RBs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson to test a Bengals run defense allowing a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry. Keep the game close in the first half is critical for the Bears, as is building on their plus-6 turnover margin. The Bengals' have used their running game to set up big pass plays, but the Bears' young, aggressive defense poses their toughest test yet. Chicago will bring pressure from any position, and the key will be how QB Carson Palmer reads and reacts.
FAST FACTS: This is the first meeting since 1992. Bengals: Palmer has 14 TD passes and seven INTs in his past five starts. ... Trying to start 3-0 for the first time since 1990 -- the last time the franchise reached the playoffs. Bears: CB Nate Vasher has eight INTs in 18 career games. ... Trying to win first two home games for first time since 1999.
BENGALS PERSONNEL NEWS T Willie Anderson, who had microfracture surgery in January, played every snap of the opener and Week 2 game, as expected, has been spelled this week during practice. He did not practice Thursday but worked with the team on Friday and listed as probable for the Bears. He has started and played in 82 consecutive games, since the 2000 opener.
WR Chris Henry, a promising rookie, coming off a four-catch, 45-yard debut against Minnesota, wants badly to play again. He was upgraded to probable with a foot injury and returned Thursday to practice.
S Anthony Mitchell, a key special teams player, remained questionable with a high hamstring injury. He practiced on Friday.
DE Justin Smith (hamstring) was added as probable to the injury report Thursday. He missed the last two practices of the week.
QB Carson Palmer, with five games of a plus-100 passer rating and trigger man of the league's No. 1-ranked offense, has been in demand all week from national media seeking interviews.
BEARS PERSONNEL NEWS
DT Tommie Harris (back, probable) was added to the injury report Thursday and did not practice, but he returned to practice Friday and will play on Sunday.
DE Adewale Ogunleye (sprained left ankle, questionable) practiced on Friday and is a game time decision on Sunday.
CB Jerry Azumah (hip, probable) returned to practice on Thursday and will play on Sunday, although he will be the nickel corner as he has been all season. Azumah is also slated to return kicks, a job he reclaimed last week.
LB Joe Odom's sprained left ankle has been immobilized in a hard cast for two weeks to facilitate the healing process. After the cast comes off he should be back in a week or two.
WR Justin Gage has just two catches for 31 yards, but he doesn't seem to be in danger of losing his starting spot because he hasn't had many opportunities and coaches love his blocking.