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Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills Preview: What to Watch For

The Bears got back on track last week, but can they keep the train a rollin’ against a very beatable Bills team?

NFL: New York Jets at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are trying to wrap up the first half of the season with a 5-3 record, and stay sitting atop the NFC North. While historically Buffalo is a tough place to play, this Bills team is not particularly good. Their defense is pretty legit, but a lot of what they like to do is predicated on rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds being in the lineup. Edmunds left the game Monday night with a concussion and is currently in the protocol.

The Bills players were so adamant that Nathan Peterman not start for them that they went out and signed Derek Anderson to play quarterback. Anderson is also in the concussion protocol after Monday night’s game, so this injury report bears watching. If Peterman does play, this game gets a lot easier on both sides of the ball.

For a burgeoning playoff contender, this is a game you need to win, but you have to play the game right and that Bills defense is no joke. Last week showed the blueprint for how to win this game. Here is what I will be watching for this Sunday:

What to Watch For

On offense, the Bears should come out with a tad more conservative approach than they normally do. The Bills can really rush the passer and pressure typically leads to more turnovers. The last thing the Bears can afford to do is turn the ball over and allow Buffalo to have any hope of winning this game. Look for more Jordan Howard earlier in the game this week with some play-action off of that, whether that be RPOs, straight play-action passes, or bootlegs.

If Edmunds is going to sit this game out, the middle of the field is where the Bears will have their success once the game settles in. If Allan Robinson rests for another week, this should be a game that we see both Trey Burton and Anthony Miller shine. The Bears have also gotten away from the wide receiver screen in recent weeks, as well as the jet sweep. This might be a game to utilize horizontal motion to open up the field vertically.

Defensively, this should be a bloodbath. If Nathan Peterman is playing quarterback, you can pretty much expect the Bills to run the ball 70% of the time. The Peterman catalog includes multiple sections on throwing interceptions. Whether or not Mack plays this week shouldn’t matter. The Bears will have to stop the run first, but if they can get even a modicum of pressure on Peterman, the Bears secondary will be dancing in their Himalayan walking shoes after their interceptions on Sunday.

That’s what I will be watching for on Sunday afternoon, what about you? The Bears beat a middling Jets team last week and will have another one in the Bills on Sunday.

Watch out for my ‘which players to watch for’ coming later today.