Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Micah Hyde vs. Trey Burton More often than not it’s expected that Hyde will draw Burton as a coverage assignment. Burton has blended well into Matt Nagy’s passing attack as he sits third on the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns.
2 – Jordan Mills vs. Khalil Mack Mack has been nursing an ankle injury since Week 6 and did not play against the Jets last week. He hasn’t recorded a sack since sustaining the injury. Mills would welcome a less than 100 percent Mack on Sunday.
3 – Tre’Davious White vs. Taylor Gabriel Allen Robinson was supposed to be Chicago’s new big-play receiver, but to this point it’s been the former Falcon. Gabriel has been a dependable field stretcher for the Bears, so White will have to be careful to keep the speedy wideout in front of him.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass rush Buffalo’s pass rush might be missing Trent Murphy again, but they showed no signs of slowing down against Tom Brady last week. Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes have been the stalwarts off the edge and the push from Kyle Williams and new insert Jordan Phillips keeps QBs from stepping up in the pocket.
Best advantage – Pass defense Buffalo brings the sixth-best pass coverage unit in the league into this matchup. The Bills are allowing just over 220 passing yards per game. Chicago’s offense has a pedestrian ranking of 21st in passing.
Bills Number 1 Must
Manufacture points It sounds like an oversimplification, but points have proven hard to come by for the Bills. They’ve managed just two touchdowns in their last four games. If you can’t score, you can’t win. Buffalo has to get on the scoreboard early and put themselves in position to score from start to finish if they want to beat the Bears.
The Bears defense has been feasting in the first half of the season. Chicago is currently second in the league in takeaways with 17 in just seven games. They also rank second in interceptions with 11. It’s a big reason why the Bears rank second in the league in points off turnovers with 64, second only to New England.
Tarik the terror
He might be just 5-6 and 179 pounds, but Bears back Tarik Cohen has had a breakout season as a multi-dimensional threat. As a complementary back to Jordan Howard, Cohen is averaging 5.2 yards per carry with his shifty running style.
That elusiveness has also made him an effective punt returner for the Bears where he averages almost 12 yards per return to help Chicago rank fifth in the league in punt return average.
Cohen is also a dynamic weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. He currently leads the Bears in receiving yards (398), yards per catch (13.3), stands second on the Bears in receptions (30) and second in receiving touchdowns (3). The Bears fourth-round pick in 2017 had a 70-yard catch and run for a touchdown last week against the Jets.
Mack a little gimpy
The Bears gave up two first-round picks to acquire Oakland pass rusher Khalil Mack via trade. Mack has been a force when healthy, but he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury. He sustained the injury against Miami in Week 6, didn’t look right in Week 7 against New England and sat out last week against the Jets. With three straight division games coming up after Chicago plays Buffalo, do the Bears choose to have Mack wait another week before he returns to the lineup?
Chicago’s offense has done a good job of getting up on opponents early on the scoreboard. In fact, in all but one of their games this season they’ve had double-digit point leads.
They led 20-3 after three versus Green Bay. They were up 17-3 on the Seahawks after three in Week 2. The Bears were ahead by 35 against Tampa Bay at the half (38-3) and up 21-10 on Miami midway through the third quarter. The last two weeks they were up 17-7 on New England, and lost and they were ahead 14-3 through three quarters against the Jets.
So far this season the Bears have outscored their opponents by better than a 2:1 margin (147 to 70).
Shutting the door
Chicago’s 3-4 defensive front has been stout against the run this season. At the root of their success in having the league’s third-best run defense, allowing just 83 yards rushing per game, is their ability to shut down opponents on first down.
The Bears give up an average of just over four yards per play on first down (4.27), which is good for second in the league. It’s why Chicago has given up the fewest first downs to their opponents in the league (118).
Trubisky heating up
Second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky gets a good dose of support and offensive balance from the team’s third-ranked run game, but over the last four games he’s been racking up yards with his arm. Trubisky has thrown for more than 1,200 yards with 13 touchdowns against three interceptions in his last four starts. That’s the most by a Bears QB in a four-game span in 71 years. The last Chicago QB to do it was Hall of Famer Sid Luckman in 1947.
Trubisky is also the team’s second-leading rusher behind Jordan Howard with almost 300 yards on the ground (296). His 296-yard total is second in the league among quarterbacks. Only Carolina QB Cam Newton has more rushing yards this season.
Quote of the week
“I’ve been a part of this before. You know, there’s challenging moments, especially early. It’s always a challenge. Winning in the NFL is always a challenge, even when you’re established. Sustaining it is a challenge. Getting it off the ground, getting it turned in the right direction (is a challenge). I know we’re getting it turned in the right direction, and I have a vision for this football team. We have a vision for this football team, Brandon (Beane) and myself. We’re going to continue to drive this football team towards that vision every day.
“Sometimes we’re not getting the results, necessarily, on the scoreboard, and that’s frustrating. I know it’s frustrating for our fan base. But I know we’re doing things that are right that are going to lead us to that down the road.”
--Head coach Sean McDermott
Stat of the week
Lorenzo Alexander has 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in his past three games.
Milestones in reach
LeSean McCoy needs 106 yards from scrimmage to reach 14,000 for his career.
Matt Milano with one fumble recovery will have four this season, giving him the most in one season since Bruce Smith had four in the 1985 campaign.
Kyle Williams needs three sacks for 50 in his career.
Buffalo’s defense has allowed one touchdown in their last 10 quarters of play at home.
The Buffalo Bills are back at New Era Field this week and will take on the Chicago Bears. In anticipation of the matchup, we take a look at the opponents through the years.