A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Buffalo Bills.
1. Limit big gains on the ground
The Bills have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league at running back with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Spiller has the quick burst to hit holes and get to the next level while Jackson is more savvy between the tackles and picking his spots. The Bears had the worst run defense in the league last year and this could quickly become a problem spot if they can’t contain the run and get their defense off the field.
2. Strike quickly
The Bills are a run-heavy team and struggle in the passing game. If they’re playing from behind, they will be forced to go away from their strength and have to take to the air. The Bears have a potent offense and have the ability to put up big points, so they need to start fast and make the most of their scoring opportunities to put the Bills behind early.
3. Pick up the pace
There’s no such thing as “Bear Weather” in September — some would argue there’s no such thing as Bear Weather at all. It’ll be hot on the field and the advantage will go to the team whose defense stays the freshest. When the Bears have the football, they need to speed up the rate of play and force the Bills to scramble in their reserves on defense. By the second half, Matt Forte should have his way against a tired Bills defense.
4. Keep Manuel in the pocket
Bills quarterback EJ Manuel isn’t the most gifted passer in the league, but he has good mobility and can extend plays with his legs. The Bears can’t lose contain on him and allow him to escape the pocket, because we know just how poorly the secondary played last year. The pass rush needs to get after Manuel, move him off his spot but keep him between the tackles.