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Week 9 Game Preview: Bears-Bills

The Bears try to make it two in a row with a road trip to Buffalo. Can Chicago drop the Bills through the proverbial table?

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight week the Bears have an opponent that they should beat, which is a dangerous thing.

The Bears were supposed to beat the Miami Dolphins, especially when it was announced that the Dolphins would be starting Brock Osweiler.

The Bears were supposed to beat the Arizona Cardinals. They went down 14-0 before fighting back for a 16-14 win.

Chicago has struggled with the games that they are supposed to win, especially on the road.

The Bears travel to Buffalo Sunday as 10 point favorites, their biggest margin they’ve been favored since their 2006 Week 6 game against Arizona, when they were favored by 13 and won 24-23 without scoring an offensive touchdown.

Chicago could use another win before heading into the heart of their division schedule and the games will get that much more intense and difficult. But Buffalo, despite all of their offensive shortcomings, are not going to roll over easily.

Buffalo Bills

SB Nation site: Buffalo Rumblings

Day/Time/TV: Sunday, noon CST, FOX

Record: 2-6

Last week: 25-6 loss on Monday Night Football at home to the Patriots. They hung around for three quarters before New England finally pulled away at the end.

Bears all-time record against: 7-5

Historical match ups: The Bears last win at Rich/Ralph Wilson/New Era Stadium was Oct. 7, 1979.

The Bears had 61 rushing attempts (62 if you count Bob Avellini’s scramble) and just eight passing attempts. Walter Payton scored the only points of the game as the Bears won 7-0.

Last meeting: A 23-20 OT loss in week one of the 2014 season.

Jay Cutler threw two TDs and two INTs while EJ Manuel threw one and rushed for one.

Offense: The Buffalo Bills come into the game ranked 31st in yards and 32nd in points.

The Bills are most known for their ongoing quarterback struggles. They’ve started three QBs, with Nathan Peterman being ineffective, rookie Josh Allen struggling, then injured and then back to Peterman, then to Derek Anderson, until he was hurt,

So now it’s back to Peterman. Bears fans have to feel for Bills fans because we know all too well that the QB carousel is no fun to watch.

Peterman will be making his fourth start. This season he’s thrown for 108 yards, 1 touchdown and four interceptions. His completion percentage is 40.6. His adjusted net yards per attempt is negative.

For his career Peterman has thrown three touchdowns, nine interceptions, a completion percentage of 45.7 for 360 yards.

He is epically bad. For context, Craig Krenzel, in 2004, had a stat line of 46.5 percent completion/718 yards/3 TDs/6 INTs.

The Bills passing game ranks dead last in yards and touchdown passes and has the second-most interceptions.

The leading receivers for Bills are Zay Jones (25 rec./281 yds./1 TD), TE Chales Clay (19/169/0), Kelvin Benjamin (16/262/1) and the versatile LeSean McCoy (19/167/0).

Buffalo’s rushing game ranks 23rd in yards but is 29th in yards per carry. Their leading rusher is McCoy (75 att./257 yds./0 TD). Behind him is Chris Ivory (73/244/1). The Bills’ rushing TD leader is actually QB Josh Allen (3), who is injured.

The Bills have 18 turnovers, third most in the league.

Defense: The Bills defense has been quite good, coming in ranked sixth in yards allowed, but 19th in points allowed.

The disparity there may be a product of such a turnover prone offense giving opposing offenses short fields or just giving up points with pick sixes.

The Bills passing defense is especially good, ranking sixth in passing yards allowed, while the rushing defense ranks 15th in yards allowed and 19th in touchdowns allowed.

Up front, they are led by Jerry Hughes (4.5 sacks/6 TFL/11 QB hits), Lorenzo Alexander (4.5 sacks/5 TFL/5 QB hits) and Kyle Williams (3.5 sacks/4 TFL/7 QB hits).

They may be down rookie Tremaine Edmunds (1 sack/3 TFL/7 PDs/2 FFs) but fellow LB Matt Milano (5 PDs/1 sack/ 7 TFL) looms.

In the secondary, top players include safety Jordan Pryor (2 INTs/2 PDs/1 FF) and TreDavious White (5 PDs). LBs Alexander and Milano aren’t too bad in the pass area, noted by their one INT each and 5 PDs each.

Injury report: The Bills listed six players on their Wednesday injury report:

Did not participate: DT Kyle Williams (rest), LB Lorenzo Alexander (rest), QB Josh Allen (elbow), QB Derek Anderson (concussion), LB Tremaine Edmunds (concussion) and DE Trent Murphy (knee)

Key match ups: The Bears defense has another advantage this week over a bad offense. The corners need to play soundly, though and not give up a big play while going for a pick (a la Kyle Fuller last week). Peterman is simply not an NFL caliber QB and the Bills are in a tough spot, unless Anderson clears the protocol on a short week.

Mitch Trubisky is likely going to have navigate some tight throwing windows against a stingy defense. The Bears may need to rely on Jordan Howard more this week.

Khalil Mack may be out again so the Bears will once again try to generate pressure from Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Roy Robertson-Harris and Bilal Nichols.

The biggest defensive match up is really against Shady McCoy. If the Bears can slow him down, then they will really be in the driver’s seat.

What to watch for: This has the chance to be a big Bears victory. The Bears need to stack together wins as they head into three straight division games and really look to take control of the division and their own postseason destiny. Their October swoon is behind them, but November is when teams really need to hit their stride and play to their potential.

Key stats: The Bills’ three passing TDs is the worst through eight games since 2009 when the Browns also had three and the Raiders had just two.

The Bills have been outscored 62-11 in their last two games.

The Bears haven’t won at Buffalo since 1979, they technically won on the road against Buffalo in 2010, but that game was played in Toronto, Canada

The Bills only wins came in games they won the turnover margin, the Bears have only lost the turnover margin once this season (week one)

The pick: I think the Bears win in a similar fashion to last week, where it’s never really in doubt, but it doesn’t always look pretty and isn’t quite the margin of victory we all want. Bears 20, Bills 10. Click here to see my pick against the spread on Sports Bet Collective (I’m 5-2 on the season), it’s free when you sign up for an account.

What do you think the Bears path to victory is Sunday? What’s your prediction?