Bills vs Bears Game Preview
The Bills return to Soldier Field for the first time in four years as they take on the Bears for their final preseason game. Both teams are young and hungry to showcase their growing talent in what should be a snapshot of two future contenders.
Buffalo and Chicago have plenty in common. They both have young highly-touted quarterbacks and a budding defence. The Bills are looking to rebound as Chicago looks to return to the postseason for the first time in eight years.
Buffalo finally made the playoffs in the 21st century thanks to a few upsets going their way. It was a short-lived achievement as they were quickly bounced in the wild card round managing to score only three points. A rebuild was quickly put in place.
The Bills traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Browns and signed Bengals’ A.J. McCarron. A chunk of the team’s offence has also been flipped making this almost a brand-new Bills team.
It has been a long rebuilding process for the Bears, but they may finally have a contender in their hands. Led by an underrated and improving defence, the Bears look to second-overall pick Mitch Trubisky to revitalize the offence and help the team snag a playoff spot.
Chicago is playing in the NFC’s most competitive division and the return of Aaron Rodgers is trouble, but this Bears team is a dark horse to win the NFC North.
The Bears should win this game on the strength of their defence and continuity. They have less moving pieces and despite a new coaching staff, should have adapted well enough to take it to Buffalo. They also have a better team overall.
Bills vs Bears Head-to-Head Records
The Bills and Bears and have gone back-and-forth with no team truly owning the series. Chicago does lead 7-5 overall although Buffalo has won three of their last five meetings including their most recent one in 2014.
They first met in 1970, the first season following the AFL-NFL merger. This was Buffalo’s first official year with the new NFL. Chicago would dominate this meeting winning 31-13. The Bears would go on to win five of their first seven meetings, which took place from 1970 to 1997.
The teams’ earlier meetings were characterized by gruelling defensive battles although it has since shifted to more high-scoring battles, particularly since 2002 where both teams have combined to score at least 40 points. Three of their last four meetings have been close and were decided by six points or less.
Chicago still holds a slight edge being further along the rebuilding phase. They are ready to contend as early as 2018 while Buffalo just re-entered renovation. If it works out, these two could have a marquee match-up by 2022.
Buffalo Bills Recent History
Outside of the Browns and Lions, no franchise has suffered more than the Bills. Their greatest years happen to also be their most tragic. The Bills became the first and only sports franchise to lose four consecutive championship games in a row. Yes, the Bills infamously lost four straight Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.
One of these losses was a blown field goal from Scott Norwood, which would be remembered by the words “wide left”. The Bills has Hall of Famers like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith all at their prime and dominated the NFL only to fall flat on their faces when it mattered most.
The franchise never recovered. After 1995, the Bills would never make it out of the wild card round of the playoffs and would have a league-leading playoff drought of 17 seasons from 2000 to 2016. Their playoff return in 2017 was anything but impressive as they scored a measly three points and lost.
Chicago Bears Recent History
The Bears are one of the NFL’s two oldest teams (the Cardinals being the other) and officially began in 1920 as part of the American Professional Football Association (APFA). They became an early dynasty during the 1930’s and 1940’s, but would endure a lengthy playoff absence all the way until the 1980’s.
Chicago would form one of the league’s most dominant defences nicknamed the “Monsters of the Midway”. This team would go 15-1 and win Super Bowl XX during the 1985 season completing what many believe to be the greatest run by any NFL team until this day.
That would remain Chicago’s only Super Bowl as the Bears would struggle with inconsistency throughout. A losing return to the Super Bowl in 2006 has been their highlight in the last 30 seasons although things are looking a bit better heading into 2018.
Buffalo Bills Outlook
Buffalo may have made the playoffs but that didn’t stop them from going into a full rebuild. They jettisoned Taylor and let several long-time players walk including three-fifths of their offensive line. The Bills made a splash in the NFL Draft taking not one but two blue-chippers in quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
Both are raw prospects who won’t be rushed into contributing though could see huge roles as early as this coming season. Buffalo also added guard Wyatt Teller to the offensive line, one of the first pieces to a long-term project. They added veterans on both sides of the ball to keep them afloat.
LeSean McCoy remains the Bills’ best player, but off-field issues may cut his season short. If that happens, the Bills could be on the fast-track to a top-three pick in 2019, which wouldn’t be that bad. Right now, Buffalo is playing the long game and their timeline could match perfectly with Brady’s retirement.
Chicago Bears Outlook
The Bears only won five games in 2017 but among those wins were the Steelers and Panthers and they gave the Falcons a run for their money. Chicago is anchored by a solid defence that is only getting better, especially after adding Roquan Smith, the draft’s best linebacker prospect.
Offensively, general manager Ryan Pace gave Trubisky everything he needs to succeed. He acquired receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, and drafted offensive linesman James Daniels in the second round. Trubisky will look to improve on a lukewarm debut in the middle of last season.
Chicago plays in a challenging division and has a balanced schedule for 2018. With a new coach in Matt Nagy, the Bears’ offence should improve immensely. A run at the division title is possible as well as a return to the playoffs. The Bears can win now and are still built for the long-term.
Fans would love to see a showdown between young guns Allen and Trubisky, but it’s unlikely as the former is slated with the third team while Trubisky is undoubted with the first. Both should get to see game time, however. Trubisky will take this final game to iron out the kinks with Nagy’s new system.
Buffalo will lead with McCarron as the first team’s leader. They recently acquired wide receiver Corey Coleman from the Browns and could be without top receiver Kelvin Benjamin and top running back LeSean McCoy for different reasons.
The Bills drafted plenty of talent who is playing on the second unit like defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. Defensively, they can challenge Chicago although offensively, they are sorely lacking and that’s how they falter in this game.
The battle between the first teamers should be close as McCarron has more experience than Trubisky even if he doesn’t have his physical gifts. He should keep the Bills competitive. But when the second and third units come around, it should be Chicago’s game.