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Pregame Rumblings: Bills vs. Bears, for the division

Three keys to the game, our Bills-Bears pick, and the Buffalo Rumblings SGP presented by DraftKings

I am now of the belief that the Buffalo Bills really bring the bad weather with them anywhere they go. I know the entire Northeast is dealing with this storm, but has any other team been affected this much by the weather this season?

The weather is going to be unbearably cold for some. If you happen to be in attendance today for the Bills’ Week 16 showdown with the Chicago Bears, please do yourself a favor and layer up more than you’ve ever layered for any game. It’s always best practice to be over-prepared as opposed to under-prepared. Wind chills are expected to reach -18 degrees, and there will be wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour. So please be sure to prepare to prevent frostbite. According to officials, frostbite could set in on exposed skin within 15 minutes, with the face, ears, hands, and feet most commonly impacted. In the conditions reported in the Chicago area Friday, frostbite could develop on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes, however.

I know you all didn’t come here for a weather report and a lecture on dressing for the cold, but it’s important to us at Buffalo Rumblings that your holiday isn’t ruined because of the game.

As far as injuries go, the Bears are beat up on both sides of the ball.

Bears Week 16 injury report

  • WR Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) - Out
  • WR Chase Claypool (knee) - Doubtful
  • TE Trevon Wesco (calf) - Out
  • OG Cody Whitehair (knee) - Doubtful
  • OG Teven Jenkins (neck) - Doubtful

On Friday, the Bears placed cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor on injured reserve. Chicago therefore comes into this game with a beat-up offensive line, a beat up receiver room, and a beat-up defensive backfield.

Bills Week 16 injury report

  • C Mitch Morse (concussion) - Out
  • DE Boogie Basham (calf) - Out
  • DT Ed Oliver (calf) - Questionable
  • DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder) - Questionable

My biggest concern for Buffalo, as far as injuries go, is Morse. This is now the sixth concussion in his eight-year career. The Bills should probably look to replace the Pro Bowl pivot sooner rather than later, and he should be looking to protect himself and call it quits. That’s my opinion, not the recommendation of a doctor. I just think head injuries aren’t anything to play with, and he seems to get them far too often.

Keys to the game

  1. If you’ve been keeping up with me this season, you know how I start this every week. Josh Allen is the key to any game featuring the Bills. Over the last few weeks, it seems as if Allen is becoming healthier as each play happens. Since injuring his UCL in Week 9, the Bills’ passing attack has suffered, and the focus has shifted to an efficient rushing attack. But last Saturday, Allen did enough to earn AFC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns, with one turnover, while adding 77 yards on the ground. It’s difficult for me to believe any team can beat the Bills when Allen is playing at that level. This game probably won’t be the biggest day through the air with the wind gusts, but I do expect a heavy dose of designed quarterback runs to control the clock and keep Justin Fields on the sideline. Hopefully the offense can find some time to throw if the winds are as reported. With the Bears being down two cornerbacks, I’d like to see them get Stefon Diggs going early and often.
  2. The absence of Von Miller hasn’t been an issue for the defensive line since he went down. But this might be the first real test, as this is the first highly mobile quarterback the Bills have faced since Miller’s injury. Fields is one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks that you will see in the league. An inch of space can turn into a major gain or a score before you blink. Last week, he had 95 yards on the ground, and added two touchdowns in the air. He has rushed for over 140 yards twice this season. If the Bills aren’t able to get pressure and bring Fields down, it can be a costly mistake that the Bears are happy to make the Bills pay for time and time again. I’m looking for Shaq Lawson and Greg Rousseau to continue their elevated level of play that we’ve seen this year. Khalil Herbert was also activated from Injured Reserve to help bolster an already dangerous running attack. I’ll also be looking for run support from Jordan Poyer and Taron Johnson.
  3. 3rd & Cole! Cole Beasley has been called up again to give Allen another weapon on offense. Last week, he caught his only target for nine yards. I’m looking to see how offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey gets him involved this time. He’s been missed this season in third-down and goal line situations. With the high wind forecast, hopefully he can become a key weapon during this game to capitalize on quick throws, where the Bills have had difficulty creating space throughout most of this season. John Brown was also brought back, but has been rarely used. We will need more than one target for Beasley in the next couple of weeks. I don’t think he’s lost a step at all, and he can still contribute and help this team win. Look for Dorsey to get Allen and Beasley back on the same page in short-yardage situations.

I respect every NFL roster. But I just can’t see the Bills losing this game, with them knowing what’s at stake. The road to the Super Bowl currently goes through Orchard Park, NY, and the only way to make sure it stays that way is by winning out. They can’t depend on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Cincinnati Bengals to lose to other teams for the Bills to capitalize on home field advantage. These are not the Bills of old; they’re focused, and ready to close out the year. Bills by a billion. Buffalo wins and covers the spread in the icy, Windy City.

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