This Sunday the Buffalo Bills take on the Chicago Bears in a "home" game located at the Rodgers Centre in Toronto. The Bills have yet to find success in Canada, losing both of their regular season matchups since the Toronto series began in 2008.
The Bills are 0-7, and are the only team in the National Football League to not have a win under their belt, and are coming off two consecutive heartbreaking overtime losses, to the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.
The Bears come into Toronto with a 4-3 record, second in the NFC North, led by a strong defense, and a resurgence of running back Matt Forte in the backfield.
Let’s take a look at seven individual player vs. player matchups that will have a significant impact on the outcome of this game.
The Chicago Bears made a huge splash in free agency during the offseason, by signing former Carolina Panthers stud pass rusher, Julius Peppers to solidify a struggling defensive line. Peppers is a freakish athlete, and utilizes his power to burst past opposing offensive linemen.
Demetrius Bell is still struggling to get his legs under him, as the former seventh round draft selection out of Northwestern is in his first year as a full time starter at the left tackle position.
Buffalo Bills quarterbacks have been sacked a combined 18 times this year, and Demetrius Bell has been directly responsible for at least four of them.
Peppers hasn’t made the immediate impact that the Bears hoped he would, recording just 16 tackles and two sacks throughout the first seven games of the season, but he is always an imposing threat that can never be overlooked.
Bills wide receiver Lee Evans is still the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart, but he has been overshadowed by the outstanding play of Stevie Johnson, who tied a Buffalo Bills record with touchdown receptions in five consecutive games.
This week, Evans will face off with a veteran cornerback in Charles Tillman, who is having a great season. Tillman has made 41 tackles, defended eight passes, picked off two passes, and forced three fumbles already this year, and will definitely be a tough matchup for Evans.
Evans has made 26 receptions for 342 yards, and has found the endzone four times, and while he isn’t making the impact he usually has for the Bills, he is still a vertical threat and can spread the field.
Jairus Byrd is having a rough sophomore slump, after recording nine interceptions in his rookie campaign that landed him a spot on the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster.
This year, Byrd has yet to make an interception, thanks to the switch from the 4-3 defense, which had him dropped back into a zone coverage for most of the time, allowing him to read and react, whereas now he is playing down in the box, and struggling to contain the run.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown for 1,483 yards, with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, and is known for being one of the most erratic passers in the league. If the Bills can find a pass rush and get in Cutler’s face, there is a good chance he will toss up a few questionable balls that Byrd can get his hands on.
Bills DT’s Kyle Williams, Torell Troup Vs. Bears RB Matt Forte
With the Buffalo Bills varying between a 4-3 and 3-4 defensive front, Kyle Williams and rookie Torell Troup have often been lined up together in order to stop the run. The Bills are the worst team in the league against the run, and allow a ridiculous 188.7 yards per game on the ground.
The "heavy front" defense features Marcus Stroud and Dwan Edwards at the edge with Williams and Troup in the middle, but it will be interesting to see if the Bills will resort to 3-4, in order to get the faster linebackers on the edge to contain the speedy Matt Forte.
Kyle Williams has shown outstanding work ethic and leadership on the Bills defense, making 37 tackles, four of which for losses, and two sacks, using his high motor to find himself in on every play.
The Bears are a pass-happy team, but coach Mike Martz will surely look to stuff the ball down the Bills’ throats with Matt Forte, who has rushed 90 times for 352 yards and three touchdowns, while catching 26 passes out of the backfield for 303 yards and another three scores.
Not only have the Bills struggled to contain the running game, but they have also had just as difficult of a time containing opposing tight ends. Throughout the first seven games, tight ends have accounted for 29 receptions for 409 yards and seven touchdowns against the Bills.
Chris Kelsay simply lacks the speed needed to drop into coverage with tight ends, and often requires extra help from a safety over the top, which means there has been more man-to-man coverage on the outside.
Prior to the season, pundits were saying how Bears coach Mike Martz rarely utilizes tight ends, but Greg Olsen has made 18 receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
The Chicago Bears are fifth in the National Football League in rushing defense, allowing just 89.3 yards per game on the ground, led by veteran middle linebacker, Brian Urlacher. Fred Jackson has started at running back for Buffalo, making 75 carries for 297 yards, scoring the only Bills rushing touchdown of the year. C.J. Spiller, the rookie first round draft pick hasn’t added the explosiveness Bills fans believed he would bring to the team when he was selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, making just 32 carries for 130 yards, and catching 17 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown through his first seven games.
Brian Urlacher is dominating against the run, and still is great when dropping back into coverage. He leads the Bears with 46 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, along with an interception and a forced fumble.
The Bills have relied on their passing attack since the release of Trent Edwards, but they have struggled mightily to keep drives going.
Bills RT Cordero Howard Vs. Bears DE Isreal Idonije
The Bills signed veteran right tackle Cornell Green during the offseason with hopes of shoring up a young and inexperienced offensive line, but he has been replaced by undrafted free agent, Cordero Howard, who played under coach Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech.
Howard has played decently, considering his previous experience, but Bears defensive end, Isreal Idonije will be a true test for not only Cordero, but also the entire offensive line.
The Bills will most likely struggle to contain Julius Peppers with a double team, so Howard will be left alone in his protection schemes against Idonije for most of the game.
Idonije leads the Bears in sacks, with 4.5, and has also forced two fumbles while making 22 tackles. If the Bills want to get a win, this is a key matchup that will be highly overlooked.