The first place Chicago Bears (4-3) will travel to Buffalo to face the last place Buffalo Bills (2-6). At the halfway point of the season, these are teams trending in two entirely different directions. The Bills look like a dumpster fire due mainly to an offense not producing at all. The Bears, however, are boasting a top 10 defensive unit and getting better on offense week to week.
The Bills offense has just 87 points through their first eight games, the lowest in the history of their franchise. They are coming off a 25-6 loss to the Patriots on Monday that was actually a lot closer in the first half due to their defense keeping the game close.
The Bills can very well have the first overall pick in next years draft with how they have looked thus far. Their offense has been downright abysmal and a defense can only do so much when they’re on the field for what seems like forever. The Bears defense is coming off a dominating performance against the New York Jets and that should continue this week in Buffalo.
After Derek Anderson suffered a concussion near the end of the game against the Patriots, it was evident that Nathan Peterman would receive his 5th career start this week. The fifth round selection out of Pittsburgh has more interceptions than starts with 10 picks. We should call him Nathan Pickerman, am I right?
The Bears defense should be salivating at this matchup. There hasn’t been another quarterback of late to find more ways to get the ball into the wrong teams’ hands than Peterman. On tape he doesn’t do anything spectacular. He simply is not a starting caliber quarterback in this league, but unfortunately for the Bills, they have no other choice. Who knows though, perhaps we’ll see recently signed Terrelle Pryor under center soon?
The best player on this offense is still LeSean McCoy. However, he just hasn’t put up the numbers this year. It is hard to produce on the ground when there is absolutely no threat through the air and that is the issue right now with Buffalo. McCoy rushed for a dreadful 13 yards against the Patriots and currently has an average of 3.4 yards per carry, the worst of his career. In fact, 12 of those yards came on his first carry of the game, a direct snap to himself. He was held to one yard on 11 carries after that.
While he may not have the same stuff he had once upon a time, McCoy can still play. The issue is that he is surrounded by subpar talent so defenses can take him away and essentially contain this entire offense. Chris Ivory may be able to produce better numbers at this point since he can just muscle out what few yards are available for this offense.
Outside of McCoy there aren’t really any serious threats to this offense. Kelvin Benjamin has been disappointing to say the least since being traded to the team last season. He had one 40 yard catch against the Patriots that should not have even counted according to Stephon Gilmore, who said there was a clear push off. Other than that Benjamin was invisible during that game.
Charles Clay has not provided much as well from the tight end position. He has just 19 catches for 169 yards and no touchdowns to this point in the season. The lone bright spot in the receiving category for this team has been second year wideout, Zay Jones. He continues to make strides and looks like one of the few pieces this team can build around at this point.
The offensive line from left to right is as follows: Dion Dawkins, Vladimir Ducasse, Russell Bodine, John Miller, and Jordan Mills. No one from this list jumps off the page with second year guy, Dawkins being the only one who looks to be solid. He has not played well as of recent, however. The Bears should be familiar with the name Jordan Mills as he started his career in Chicago. This line ranks 23rd in rushing in the NFL and has produced only four rushing scores. The Bears defense has yet to give up one and I don’t see that changing this week.
Bills offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, surely didn’t think he’d find himself in this situation midway through the season. He does not have much to work with in this offense at all and the play has shown it. No one on the Bills screams, “you need to know where I am on every single play.” Since the Bills do not boast any elite playmakers, it is difficult for Daboll to get too exotic with his play calls. This is due in large part to the quarterback play this season. When you have a rookie, an aged career backup, and a guy who throws interceptions faster than you can google where he came from, it can be hard to draw up a creative offensive scheme. There are a couple specific concepts that the Bills have primarily ran this season and can be expected on Sunday against the Bears.
The sail concept is something every team uses in some way, shape or form. The sail concept will have 2-3 players running routes towards the same side of the field to give the quarterback an easy high/low read. They did this a lot with Josh Allen playing, but it will also be done with Peterman under center. By cutting the field in half, you give a younger quarterback less reads to make but you also give the defense less field to cover.
The wheel route out of the backfield is something else the Bears will have to be on their toes about. As mentioned earlier, McCoy is still the best playmaker on this offense and the Bills will often send him out of the backfield as he is a capable receiver. In their surprising upset over the Minnesota Vikings earlier this season, they ran a wheel route to perfection when the running back was picked up out of the backfield leaving a streaking receiver down the middle of the field for an easy touchdown as shown here:
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 23, 2018
Matchup the Bills can exploit: short passes vs. Bears pass rush
If it is one thing that the Bears defense has struggled with this season it is the short passing game of their opponent. Randall Cobb took a short pass and took it to the house in week one to complete the comeback and defeat them. Albert Wilson ran circles around a gassed defense in Miami and helped Brock Osweiler hit the Bears with the Jordan shrug after throwing a four yard pass that ended up with Wilson 75 yards downfield in the endzone. If the Bills can find McCoy or Zay Jones in space on screens they may have some success.
Matchup the Bears can exploit: Nathan Peterman vs. literally anyone
Nathan Peterman has done nothing in his career to make himself seem like a threat to an NFL defense, let alone a top 10 defense like the Bears. Regardless of if Mack plays this week or not, the Bears should be able to provide pressure on Peterman and force him into some bad decisions which are not hard to come by with him. The Bears had to be confident when they played Brock Osweiler, but were punched in the gut and let that game get away from them. Peterman is considerably worse than Osweiler and should not provide much against them.
The Bears cannot lose to Brock Osweiler and Nathan Peterman in one season. They just can’t.
Bears look to be 5-3 heading into the gauntlet of division matchups.
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