Bears vs. Bengals — What to Watch 4

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Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Louis Murphy (18) in the 49ers’ 15-14 victory last Sunday at Soldier Field. (Charles Rex Arbogast/
AP)

Key matchup

Kyle Fuller is coming off one of his best games of the season against the 49ers, but he and fellow Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara are stepping way up in class against Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. The six-time Pro Bowl receiver has 60 receptions for 886 yards (14.8 average) and eight touchdowns this season. He had seven receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 loss to the Steelers on “Monday Night Football.”

Only one wide receiver has had a 100-yard game against the Bears this season — the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, who had 10 catches for 110 yards in a 23-17 loss to the Bears in Week 3.

Green has caught 52 of his 57 touchdowns in the NFL from quarterback Andy Dalton.

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“That combination is unique in and of itself — those guys have played together for [seven] years,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Green [has] the rare combination of size and speed and length, catch radius, and those guys have developed some good karma over the years working together, so they’re a tough duo to go against. And they had it going against Pittsburgh [on Monday] night, too.”

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After opening the season with four interceptions and no touchdown passes, Dalton has a 103.2 passer rating (20 touchdowns, four interceptions) in 10 games since Bengals quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor replaced Ken Zampese as offensive coordinator. Dalton has thrown 11 touchdown passes without an interception in his last six games, with two or more touchdowns in his last four games.

Key player

The development of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky is the last compelling element in the Bears’ dreadful season. Trubisky is coming off a season-best but specious 117.2 passer rating after completing 12 of 15 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers.

It remains to be seen if the Bears can get anybody open downfield. Trubisky’s longest completion in the last three games was 22 yards — to tight end Adam Sheen against the Lions on Nov. 19. His longest completion to a wide receiver in that span was 19 yards to Dontrelle Inman against the Eagles.

X-factor

The Bengals not only are on a short week but are coming off an emotionally and physically draining loss at home against the rival Steelers.

It might be an opportunity for the Bears. After a loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 7, the Bengals stumbled to victory against the 2-5 Colts — needing defensive end Carlos Dunlap’s 16-yard interception return for a touchdown with 6:58 to go to win 24-23 at Paul Brown Stadium. Last year, the Bengals lost to the Broncos 29-17 and Texans 12-10 after playing the Steelers.

Mark Potash

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