Reporting Jeff Joniak
Offense: Relieve the pressure
After a three loss in four-week stretch, the Bears go on the road to face a winless team. There is a lot of pressure building for both squads. The best way for the Bears to relieve some of that pressure, is to put together a winning offensive game plan. Looking at the numbers only, the obvious plan would be to run the ball on the Bills. They are allowing nearly 190 yards per game on the ground. Acknowledging that running backs Matt Forte’ and Chester Taylor are two “underused” weapons, it sounds like they will get more touches. The rest of the story is all about execution. The Bears have struggled on third down, in the red zone, and in their goal-line offense. They must improve in all of these areas for this offense to reach its full potential.
Defense: Stop Stevie
Playing well, the defense can always play better. The unit welcomes back rookie safety Major Wright after a six week absence due to a hamstring injury, and linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher have healed up from ankle and groin injuries. Buffalo’s top weapon right now is receiver Stevie Johnson. With touchdowns in five consecutive games, and six for the season, Johnson is threatening the Bills’ team record of seven games held by Andre Reed. Johnson is catching an average of better than 4 passes per game. Running the ball, the Bills are getting 4.5 yards per carry from starter Fred Jackson, but they are starting to get rookie C.J. Spiller more touches.
Special Teams: Be careful
Ranking in the top 10 in three out of four major categories, the Bears special teams unit remains one of the premier units in the NFL, ranking fourth overall. Buffalo ranks 15th. Thanks to Devin Hester, the Bears are first in the NFL in punt return average, and thanks to Danieal Manning, they are third on kick return average. They are weapons the Bills must be concerned with. They are in the bottom half of the league on both coverage units. Buffalo’s return game features punt returner Roscoe Parrish and kick returner CJ Spiller who has a 95-yard touchdown and averaging 25 yards on his returns.
Intangibles: Don’t fall asleep on the Bills
Off to their worst start in 26-years, the Buffalo Bills may be winless in seven games, but they are dangerous. They don’t have the perfect personnel to play in a 34 defense, yet they held the Chiefs to 13 points, after allowing 34+ in each of their previous five games. I go back to the run. They gave up a season-worst 274 yards on the ground to Kansas City, the fourth time this season the Bills have allowed 200+.