The Chicago Bears have lost five in a row and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
But they still can boast something the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been able to claim since 1990: a three-game winning streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bears manufactured one of the most surprising results of the season in Week 3 when they beat the Steelers 23-17 in overtime. It was their only victory in a 1-4 start and remains one of only two losses all season for the Steelers.
Since Week 3 of the 2013 season, Chicago is 2-0 against the Steelers, while the Bengals are 1-9.
In fact, the Bears have had their way with all of the AFC North, a division they face only once every four years, despite their overall struggles.
They have won six in a row against the division, having also beaten Baltimore in overtime in Week 6, and eight of 10.
But since a Thanksgiving Day win in 2015, they’ve won just five of 29 against the rest of the league, and the last two weeks have been especially bad. After being blown out by 28 at Philadelphia in Week 11, the Bears came home and lost to 1-10 San Francisco despite outgaining the 49ers 388 to 147.
Their visit to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday will feature the return of former Bengals kicker Mike Nugent, who signed with Chicago on Monday after the team placed Cairo Santos on injured reserve. Nugent was 7 of 9 on field goal attempts and 8 of 8 on extra points while filling in for the injured Dan Bailey in Dallas for four games.
But he may not get many chances to kick against the Bengals given the state of the Bears offense, which ranks last in total yards, passing yards and first downs, and they are 30th in scoring.
Chicago handed control to rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky in Week 5, and the No. 2 overall pick has struggled in most games.
He’s completing 54.9 percent of passes and has thrown only five touchdowns in eight starts. He’s been more careful with the ball than most rookie quarterbacks, throwing only four interceptions, but part of the reason for that is his reluctance to get rid of the ball, which has led to 21 sacks.
His top receiver is rookie running back Tarik Cohen with 39 receptions for 306 yards, while wide receiver Kendall Wright is his top perimeter target with 33 catches for 370 yards.
Cohen and starting running back Jordan Howard have provided a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield, combining for 1,152 yards and seven touchdowns. Howard has handled most of the work and needs just 115 yards to reach 1,000 for the second year in a row (he had 1,313 as a rookie).
Defensively the Bears have been solid, ranking 14th in total yards, 15th in rushing yards and 12th in passing yards.
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Bears kicker Mike Nugent played for the Bengals from 2010 until midway through 2016. Nugent is from Centerville (Centerville High School) and played at Ohio State University. … Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem is from Lemont, Illinois (Lemont High School) and played two seasons at St. Xavier University in Chicago, before transferring and finishing his collegiate career at Illinois … Bengals defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow is from Aurora, Illinois (Marmion Academy) … Bears punter Pat O’Donnell played four seasons at the University of Cincinnati before joining Miami (Fla.) as a graduate transfer … Bears assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson played for the Bengals from 2005-06 … Bears offensive lineman Cameron Lee was with the Bengals this offseason and was released during final cuts … Bengals linebacker Hardy Nickerson played at the Illinois … Bengals running back Brian Hill is from Belleville, Illinois (Belleville West High School) … Bears tight ends coach Frank Smith played at Miami from 1999-2003, and also coached there from ’04-06 … Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley played at the University of Dayton from 2003-04 … Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday coached at Illinois State University from 1990-91, and at Northwestern University from 1992-95 … Bears defensive back Doran Grant (practice squad) played at Ohio State University.
AFC North Outlook
Baltimore (7-5) at Pittsburgh (10-2) Sunday night: The Ravens could secure their hold on the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff race, while the Steelers could clinch the AFC North with a win.
Cleveland (0-12) vs. Green Bay (6-6): With games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore looming, this is one of two realistic chances the Browns have to get their first victory of the season.