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Five Buffalo Bills to watch at the Chicago Bears

This one is going to take “cold” to a whole different level

NFL: NOV 24 Bills at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears are set to face off in a wildly cold affair this weekend. At kickoff, the temperature is forecast to be 11 degrees, and the “feels like” temperature is going to be -9 degrees. That’s... cold. The Bills flew to Chicago on Thursday rather than Friday to make sure they landed ahead of a blizzard, and the cold, blustery conditions will only add to the wild weather Buffalo has experienced of late.

The Bears present an interesting challenge for the Bills. Buffalo is, on paper, a far superior club, but Chicago has played some quality opponents tough, especially of late. They kept it close against the Miami Dolphins (losing 35-32), the Detroit Lions (losing 31-30), and the Philadelphia Eagles (losing 25-20). While the Bears may be undermanned, they don’t lack in potential, and they certainly don’t lack for fight.

Playing the Eagles and the Bills, the respective top seeds in the NFC and the AFC, in consecutive weeks isn’t exactly something you’d expect a last-place team to have on its schedule, but it’s what the Bears have to face. If the Bills are going to handle their business this weekend, they’ll need some big performances from their top players.

Here are our five Buffalo players to watch on Saturday afternoon.

RB Devin Singletary

Quarterback Josh Allen is a given, but on a day where the football is going to be hard to throw and even harder to catch, it will be the running game that decides just how much room to operate Buffalo has through the air. Singletary is the family sedan in Buffalo’s backfield — he isn’t sexy, people constantly dream of replacing him with something flashy, but he just produces week in and week out whenever he’s called upon. The Chicago run defense has allowed a league-worst 24 rushing touchdowns this year, and they’re allowing 4.6 yards per carry, as well. Singletary averages 4.3 yards per rush, and he has four rushing touchdowns on the season. I expect a 70-yard day where he scores at least once.

C Ryan Bates

Yep, he’s usually the team’s starter at right guard, but with center Mitch Morse ruled out due to a concussion, I assume he’s going to slide over to center. Given that Bates is coming off an ankle injury, it will be interesting to see just how well he performs this week. The shotgun snaps need to be good, and when you aren’t the primary center, it’s hard to keep in a good rhythm with the quarterback under the best of circumstances. With absurdly cold temperatures, Bates will need to be on his game for Saturday. The Bears, if you recall, are also the team that signed him to an offer sheet in the offseason, a contract which Buffalo ultimately decided to match, thereby keeping him in a Bills uniform.

DE Shaq Lawson

Against a mobile quarterback like Justin Fields, it’s imperative that a team maintain contain. The Bills’ defensive end group of Greg Rousseau and Shaq Lawson does that quite well, as Rousseau uses his length to do freakishly athletic things on the outside. Lawson, though, has always been great at setting the edge, and while he might not have the measurables that Rousseau has, he does have the fire. He’s been playing quite well of late, and with Buffalo down both Von Miller and Boogie Basham, we have to expect that he’ll play an even larger role this week. Lawson has sacks in consecutive games, and Fields has been sacked 46 times this year. The Bears are down both starting guards, too. Buffalo could have a sack party this week, and I expect Lawson to have at least one.

LB Tremaine Edmunds

Buffalo’s leader in total tackles (86) is having an excellent year. He’s been all over passing lanes, he’s looked sound in his run-gap fits, and he’s even taken some turns as a more frequent blitzer of late. However, this week, I expect that his most important role will be as the spy on Fields. If Edmunds makes one wrong move, Fields has the speed and power to run for a touchdown from any corner of the field. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of dynamic running quarterbacks occupied by Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and yes, Josh Allen. Edmunds isn’t going to be the only guy spying Fields, but he’s definitely among the more qualified members who are big enough and fast enough to bring the 1,000-yard rusher down when he chooses to take off and run.

S Damar Hamlin

The young man had a rough week last weekend against Miami, taking some bad angles and continuing a troubling trend of missing tackles on multiple occasions. It’s been a mixed bag from Hamlin this year as he starts in place of an injured Micah Hyde, and part of the reason I think last week felt so jarring was because of how spoiled we’ve become by watching truly elite safety play between Hyde and Jordan Poyer since the 2017 season. I could see Hamlin having a bounce-back game this weekend, and I’ll even go so far as to predict that he’ll have more than one sack on Fields. Hamlin has been good as a blitzer off the edge, and if defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier can scheme a few looks for him to come off the edge, I think he’ll be able to impact Fields as a runner and as a passer.