The Chicago Bears have all the makings of a team headed in the right direction. They have a dynamic athlete at quarterback who improves weekly in his throwing. They have a feisty roster that fights hard in every game. They have extra draft choices in the fourth and fifth rounds in the 2023 NFL Draft.
What they don’t have, though, is an abundance of skill-position talent. They’re lacking at receiver, especially now with Chase Claypool and Equanimious St. Brown looking like they both won’t play this week (St. Brown is already out; Claypool is doubtful). They’re lacking along the offensive line, especially this week as both starting guards, Cody Whitehair and Teven Jenkins, are expected to be out.
Basically, this is going to be a very difficult task this week for the Bears to beat the Bills. That’s on paper, at least. With windy, frigid weather and a hyper-athletic quarterback, though, the Bears aren’t going to go down without a fight.
Here are our five Bears to watch this week against the Buffalo Bills.
QB Justin Fields
Maybe we should make it one player to watch, as Fields is the lifeblood of the Bears just as quarterback Josh Allen is the engine that drives that Bills. While he has improved as a passer, Fields is still most effective and dangerous when he’s running the football. He leads all quarterbacks in rushing with 1,000 yards, as he became just the third quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson (who did it twice) are the others. Fields can still be influenced by pressure, as he will drop his eyes and look to run early when he’s faced with rushers breaking down the pocket. In that way, he reminds me an awful lot of a young Allen, who would stop looking downfield and start looking to run a little early in his first year-plus in the league. Fields is a young player in need of some help at the skill positions, but for now, he’s the guy Buffalo needs to slow in order to leave the Windy City with a win.
RB David Montgomery
He’s one of the more boring, steady players in the league at his position, as nothing Montgomery does makes you say, “wow.” However, Montgomery is the classic total package as a runner — he’s tough between the tackles with enough speed to run outside, as well. He’s no burner like teammate Khalil Herbert, but he has ability. He’s a decent pass receiver, too, having caught 28 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown this year. It’s the run game that Buffalo really needs to slow down, and if the Bills can make sure that Montgomery is stymied, it will help them to make Fields more of a one-man show.
TE Cole Kmet
Someone has to catch the ball, and without any great talent at wide receiver, it could be the hyper-athletic tight end making an impact. Buffalo has been very good against tight ends this year; they haven’t allowed any tight end other than Travis Kelce to go over 45 receiving yards this season. Kmet has been wildly inconsistent this year, though that’s leveled off a bit of late. He’s averaging five catches for 47 yards per game over his last five contests. Those aren’t huge numbers, but when the guy who’s expected to be the top wideout (Dante Pettis) has a total of 15 catches for 215 yards on the season, any extra helps.
OL Larry Borom
From what I’m reading, Borom is a tackle who’s in line to start at guard this week. Defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver are both questionable this week for Buffalo, meaning that it could be a bare-bones defensive tackle group if at least one of those guys can’t play this week. That could bode well for a makeshift Chicago offensive line. However, with Borom playing an unfamiliar position, it could be a big week for someone like defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who’s had a spectacular season in his first year with Buffalo.
CB Kyler Gordon
Even with the cold, windy weather, the Bills will have chances to make plays in the passing game against a porous Bears defense. Gordon is a rookie — he was selected No. 39 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft—and he’s played like one for much of the season. He’s allowing a staggering 75.4% of the passes thrown his way to be completed for a total of 621 yards and two touchdowns. Compared to Buffalo’s two rookie corners, Kaiir Elam (68.2% for 320 yards and two touchdowns) and Christian Benford (60.7% for 231 yards and one touchdown), it hasn’t been a great year for Gordon. He’s also been targeted 69 times, which is nearly as many as Elam (44) and Benford (28) combined. Regardless of which wideout Gordon is covering this weekend, Buffalo has the upper hand, and it’s a matchup they’d be wise to exploit.