Buffalo Bills (11-3) at Chicago Bears (3-11)
Kickoff: Noon, Saturday, Soldier Field, Chicago
TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Adam Archuleta, AJ Ross)
Streaming: fubo TV (Sign up for free trial)
Radio: WBBM AM-780, FM-105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote)
Spanish Radio TUDN AM-1200, Latino Mix FM-93.5 (Omar Ramos, Miguel Esparza)
NFL On SiriusXM: Bills broadcast 111, 384; Bears broadcast 138, 229
Latest Betting Line: Bills by 8 1/2 (Over/under 40 1/2). Money Line, Bills bet $400 to win $100. Bears bet $100 to win $310. Most up to date betting info at SI.com sportsbook.
The Series: The 14th regular-season meeting. The Bears lead the series 8-5. The Bears own a 5-1 record against Buffalo in Chicago. The Bears won the last game between the two in Buffalo in 2018, 41-9.
The Coaches: Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is 21-9 in his second season. Bears coach Matt Eberflus is 3-10 in his first season and is 7-8 against the Eagles in his career as an assistant coach.
Last Week: Buffalo won 32-29 over Miami in Buffalo on a Tyler Bass 25-yard field goal as time expired. Dolphins back Raheem Mostert ran for 136 yards on the Bills defense but Josh Allen threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, including six for 98 yards and a TD to tight end Dawson Knox. Buffalo’s defense held Tyreek Hill to 7.7 yards per reception and sacked Tua Tagovailoa twice.
The Bears lost their seventh straight, 25-20 to the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles (13-1). They held the Eagles to 112 rushing yards but Jalen Hurts threw for 315 yards on 22 of 37, including nine for 181 yards to AJ Brown. Justin Fields ran for 95 yards to equal 1,000 for his season, becoming the third QB in history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Bears defense took the ball from Philadelphia three times, with interceptions by Kyler Gordon and DeAndre Houston-Carson and a fumble recovery by Gordon.
This Season: The Bills have won five straight and need this win to lock up their second straight AFC East title. They are tied with Kansas City for the best record in the AFC but own the tiebreaker based on a win over KC. Two of their losses came on the road, against Miami in Week 3 and against the Jets on Nov. 6. Allen has thrown for 3,857 yards (325 of 510, 63.7%) with 30 TDs and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 97.3. He also has 705 yards rushing (6 TDs) to lead the team. RB Devin Singletary has 684 yards on 158 attempts. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has 99 receptions for 1,299 yards and 10 TDs to lead the Bills, who also have 42 catches for 752 yards and six TDs from wide receiver Gabriel Davis. After the loss of defensive end Von Miller for the year due to injury, the Bills are relying on Gregory Rousseau is a key pass rusher at 7 sacks. Safety Jordan Poyer has a team-high four interceptions.
The Bears are trying to avoid matching the longest in-season losing streak in team history at eight. They’ve lost 10 of 11 overall. They have lost two more starters, cornerbacks Kindle Vildor (ankle) and Jaylon Johnson (finger). Their defense has made 17 sacks on the season, the fewest in the league, and their only sack by a defensive end since Week 2 is one in Week 6 by Al-Quadin Muhammad. Justin Fields is coming off his second-best game ever in terms of passer rating (119.5) and has raised his passer rating to a career-best 88.0. He is 170 of 274 (62.0%) for 2,048 yards with 15 TDs and 10 interceptions. Fields leads the NFL in yards per carry at 7.0. Teammate Khalil Herbert returns this week from a hip injury and is tops among running backs at 5.95 yards per carry. He has 108 carries for 643 yards. David Montgomery is second for the Bears in rushing with 694 yards on 172 carries. Tight end Cole Kmet needs to receptions to take over the team lead from injured Darnell Mooney (40 receptions). The Bears are 13th in the league on defense in takeaways.
- The Bills are second on offense, fifth passing and eighth rushing. They are the fourth-highest scoring team. The Buffalo’s defense is ninth overall, 18th against the pass and sixth against the run. They are second in points allowed.
- The Bears are 23rd on offense, 32nd (last) in passing and first in rushing. They are 19th in scoring. Chicago is 22nd on defense, 15th against the pass and 27th against the run. They have allowed the third-most points.
- Bills: DE Boogie Basham (calf) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) are out; DT Ed Oliver (calf) and Jordan Phillips (shoulder) are questionable.
- Bears: WR Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion), WR Chase Claypool (knee), G Teven Jenkins (neck) and G Cody Whitehair (knee) are doubtful. TE Trevon Wesco (calf) is out while CBs Kindle Vildor (ankle) and Jaylon Johnson (finger) are out and have gone on injured reserve.
Of Note: Fields will break a Bears record with another fumble. He has 15 on the year and is tied with Jim Harbaugh (1993). He is tied for the NFL league in fumbles with Matt Ryan. … Because of the injury to Morse, Ryan Bates will move from guard to start at center for Buffalo. The Bears tried signing Bates to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent but the Bills matched the offer. … The Bills have won five straight without recording an interception in that streak, joining the 2016 Cowboys as the only teams to have done that. The Cowboys actually won six straight without an interception. … Allen’s 177 touchdowns accounted for (133 passing, 37 rushing, 1 receiving are tied with Dolphins Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino for most by a player in his first five NFL seasons. … The Bills are 5-0 in non-Sunday games this season. The only other teams to do this were the 1962 Boston Patriots and 2005 Denver Broncos, and Boston had six non-Sunday wins.
Next Week: The Bears are at Detroit on New Year’s Day at noon while the Bills on Christmas Eve at noon while the Bills are at Cincinnati in a Monday Night Football game Jan. 2
Key Individual Matchups
Bears DE Trevis Gipson vs. Bills RT Spencer Brown
Gipson hasn’t had a season to remember, without sacks since Week 2 and with only three tackles for loss on the season. However, he held his ground against an Eagles offense that attacks the edge as well as anyone and his three tackles was his high since Week 2. Despite his lack of sacks, Gipson has been active and is only three pressures short of the 17 he had last year when he had seven sacks replacing Khalil Mack. Brown has experienced a miserable season and is one of the reasons Allen needs to scramble so much. Pro Football Focus grades the Bills right tackle 77th out of 80 tackles it grades in the NFL. His breakdowns include three marks in the 40s and 47.6 overall. He has allowed four sacks after allowing one last year. PFF last week released its group rankings for offensive lines and the Bears offensive line strangely was ranked 10th while the Bills were ranked 26th in what seems like a role reversal. It’s the right tackle and left guard positions, in particular, that drag down Buffalo this year.
Bears DT Justin Jones vs. Bills LG Rodger Saffold
Normally a rock-solid performer for the Bills, Saffold is experiencing a year like he’s had only one other time in his 13-year career. He’s been struggling, and that’s being kind. PFF grades him 77th among 83 guards in the league. He has committed nine penalties and allowed a pair of sacks. Jones is no highly ranked performer. He isn’t having the type of season Ryan Poles evisioned when he was signed as an alternative after Larry Ogunjobi failed his physical when he signed in Chicago as a free agent. However, Jones is always active and moves up and down the line performing various roles for a group that has struggled overall. He has only six QB pressures, three QB hurries and two sacks. The Bears didn’t get Jones to be a role player but it’s what he has been. Still, his season has trended upward the second half and he has an edge compared to how Saffold has played.
Bears WR N’Keal Harry vs. Bills CB Dane Jackson
Jackson has had a poor season by his standards but also a scary one. He had an early season injury like the one Teven Jenkins had for the Bears last week. He was taken off on a stretcher, then to the hospital, then released and was practicing again nine days later. He later suffered a neck stinger, which had to be scary considering what happened earlier in the year. PFF grades him 97th among the 122 cornerbacks it grades. Sportradar has him at three touchdown passes allowed. Without Chase Claypool due to a knee injury, the Bears will rely on Harry, who has had back issues and has only made five catches on the year (93 yards). Harry needs to be consistently better.
Bears LT Braxton Jones vs. Bills Edge Shaq Lawson
Braxton Jones has allowed five sacks this year but remains among the highest-graded Bears offensive linemen by PFF. The rookie left tackle has gradually improved his PFF grade at blocking the pass, and has been among the team’s highest ranked run blockers all year. He has been at or near the top of all rookie left tackles as a blocker. His problem has come against bull rushes, but Lawson is not exactly the king of the bull rush. Lawson is only playing extensively because of the season-ending injury to Von Miller. Lawson has 3 1/2 sacks. He had one against the Jets when no one made an attempt to block him. He is ranked 80th among edge defenders by PFF. Throughout his career, he has been a serviceable player. However, he’s quite the downgrade from Miller.
Bears CB Kyler Gordon vs. Bills WR Stefon Diggs
Diggs doesn’t have the size but has breakaway speed and ability to cut like the Bears saw earlier from Miami’s Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Diggs is third in the NFL in catches (99), yardage (92.8 per game) and TD receptions (10). Gordon will not follow Diggs all over Jaylon Johnson would have but will have coverage in zone on him. His season is trending up. One of his best games of the year came against Atlanta, but he suffered a concussion and didn’t return until Sunday. Then he picked off one pass and recovered a fumble. A 101.4 passer rating against is better than what he was sporting earlier and he has allowed only two TD passes even though Pro Football Focus has had him in the bottom 10 of cornerbacks much of the year. He’s escaped that for now and is 11th worst.
Bears CB Jaylon Jones vs. Bills WR Gabe Davis
If the Bills complete a pass for big yardage, it’s often been Davis. He’s second in the league in yards per catch at 17.9, although he has just 42 catches in 77 targets. Davis can line up outside or in the slot but at 6-2, 210, he’s built more like a traditional X-receiver. Jones is a bit of a surprise for the Bears. He has had to start since Kindle Vildor’s ankle injury. Jones has had a better passer rating against (92.3) than Vildor (110.1), although far fewer play reps. He seems to error on the side of caution with his play but often gets beat on the shorter routes.
Bears WR Byron Pringle vs. Bills CB Taron Johnson
Pringle got the most money of the free agent receivers the Bears brought in this year and has had opportunities since getting over injuries, but he hasn’t produced much with seven catches in eight games. Last week’s touchdown was the result of his experience playing with Patrick Mahomes as Fields had run out of the pocket and Pringle simply found a dead spot in the coverage and sat down. This is something he needs to do more of because Fields is trying to find receivers downfield. Johnson has an excellent grade for a slot cornerback of 71.5 by PFF. Sportradar tracks him at 99.5 passer rating against when targeted. Johnson’s best quality as a slot defender is tackling ability. He has missed only three out of 82 tackle attempts.
Bears T Riley Reiff vs. Bills DE Gregory Rousseau
Rousseau has been a constant for the Bills in the rush with seven sacks and will need to pick up the slack after Von Miller’s season-ending injury. He is more of a speed rusher with 4.68-second speed in the 40 and the type who can give Reiff trouble. Reiff hasn’t had a bad season but matchup up against a younger speed rusher can be troublesome. It’s possible the Bears could alternate Alex Leatherwood at this spot again but with so much turmoil in the line this week due to the injuries at both guard spots, they might want to keep the lineup as stable as possible elsewhere.