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Bills Today: Why 17 might be the magic number for Bills against Bears

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1 - Why 17 is the magic number for Bills against Bears

The Chicago Bears have gotten off to a surprising start in the 2018 season.

They’re 4-3 through seven games, topping the NFC North. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has taken a giant leap in his sophomore season, throwing for an average of 259.1 yards per game.

Tarik Cohen, a running back who leads Chicago in receiving yards (398), is proving himself as one of the league’s elite playmakers.

Chicago’s defense has been incredibly stout, as well, ranking fourth in total defense at the halfway point.

Though the Bears have played well to this point, there is seemingly a cursed number that haunts the team, a point total that brings either joy or sorrow to the city of Chicago.

That number is 17.

Chicago is 4-0 in games in which its defense has held opponents to 17 or fewer points this season. When their opposition surpasses that total, however, disaster strikes. The Bears are 0-3 in contests in which they’ve allowed more than 17 points.

Chicago most recently allowed more than 17 points in Week 7, a 38-31 loss to the Patriots.

It looks like 17 will be the magic number for Buffalo in Week 9, and it’s a point total that the team is capable of reaching. The Bills have surpassed the 17-point mark twice this season.

Buffalo’s offense will be eager to get on track this week in front of a raucous home crowd this weekend. If the Bills are able to put up 17 points against the Bears, the numbers say they’ll put themselves in a favorable situation.

2 - Zay Jones confident after strong start

Progress is something that NFL teams love to see from their young players, and it’s something that the Bills have certainly seen from Zay Jones in the 2018 season.

The FBS’ all-time leader in receptions struggled to live up to expectations in his injury-plagued rookie campaign. Jones played with a torn labrum throughout the majority of the season, making it rather difficult for him to move his arm let alone catch passes. The former East Carolina Pirate finished his debut season with 27 receptions for 316 yards.

Jones underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason, and his health has allowed him to perform more like the receiver that Buffalo traded up to land in the second round of the 2017 draft. In eight games this season, Jones has reeled in 25 passes for 281 yards.

He’s just two receptions away from matching his 2017 total.

Head coach Sean McDermott credits Jones’ progress to his work ethic.

“I think our medical team has done a good job in terms of getting him to a spot where he can go out and function,” McDermott said. “The rest of the credit really goes to Zay. He’s worked his tail off to get back to where he is and to get some production that he’s had.

“My hat goes off to him in that regard. I’m looking forward to watching him continue to grow through the rest of the season here.”

Though he never lost confidence in himself, the strong start to his sophomore campaign has had a positive impact on Jones’ morale.

“I’m doing just fine,” Jones said. “I’m feeling good. I’m just going to try to keep doing my thing.”

3 - Pryor has ‘good week’ of practice, learning playbook

Learning the ins-and-outs of an NFL playbook is usually a months-long process that takes hours upon hours of reading, digesting, and execution.

When Buffalo’s Week 9 contest with the Bears kicks off, Terrelle Pryor will have been with the team, and its playbook, for just six days.

Pryor, a wideout who recently signed a one-year deal with the Bills, is working day and night to master Buffalo’s offensive system. While he’s made considerable progress, expecting him to suit up for the team this weekend is not a lock.

Head coach Sean McDermott is pleased with the work that Pryor has put in, but he has yet to make a decision on his Week 9 status.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had a situation like this year,” McDermott said. “I think he’s done like most of the other guys have done in terms of trying to get himself up to speed. We have to manage expectations. I think he’s had a good week of trying to get himself ready to go here.”

McDermott’s decision will come down to Pryor’s comfort-level and health. Pryor, who signed with the Jets in the offseason, was cut by the team in October after suffering a groin injury.

The 29-year-old, however, has since returned to full health, and mastering Buffalo’s offensive scheme is now his primary focus. According to his teammates, Pryor’s past experience as a quarterback is aiding him in learning the new playbook.

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