The Chicago Bears will try to maintain their lead atop the NFC North in Week 9 when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 4, at New Era Field in Buffalo, New York. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
After the Bears opened the week favored by 8.5 points, Chicago is now listed as a 9-point favorite on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 49 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 9 NFL odds.
The Bills put up a valiant fight Monday night against the Patriots. But they never got their offense going, ultimately losing 25-6. It was their third consecutive loss, which is actually the first time they’ve lost three straight this season. At 2-6, hope is all but gone in Buffalo, even with five of their last eight games coming at home.
To make matters worse, the Bills are forced to go back to Nathan Peterman at quarterback this week. Rookie Josh Allen remains sidelined with an elbow injury while veteran Derek Anderson is in concussion protocol. The Bills have also brought in Matt Barkley to serve as Peterman’s backup, as they are scraping the bottom of the barrel at that position right now.
The Bears, meanwhile, went from worst to first in the NFC North last week. Chicago took care of business at home against the Jets, winning 24-10 to snap a two-game losing skid. At the same time, the three other teams in the NFC North all lost, catapulting the 4-3 Bears to the top of the standings.
Of course, the NFC North remains perhaps the most balanced and competitive division in football. The Bears can drop back to last place in the span of a week just as easily as they went from worst to first in a week. Chicago is also set up to play three straight games against division foes after this week’s trip to Buffalo, so the Bears can’t afford to slip up and lose to the Bills right before that critical stretch of their schedule.
With Peterman starting at quarterback for the Bills, this is a no-brainer. Most of us remain confused as to why he’s even employed as a third-string quarterback in the NFL, much less being given the chance to start another game. Every game he’s started has turned into an utter nightmare for the Bills, and there’s no reason to expect this game to be any different. I’ll gladly swallow the points and lean toward Chicago to cover.
For the record, I give Sean McDermott some credit. He showed creativity by running some wildcat formations against the Patriots last week, trying to throw some curveballs at the New England defense. If nothing else, the Bears will have to spend time preparing for some of those wrinkles this week. The Bills also signed Terrelle Pryor this past week. As a former quarterback, Pryor could potentially be used on some trick plays in addition to giving the Bills an extra wide receiver.
That being said, it’ll take more than a few trick plays for the Bills to score points. Buffalo hasn’t found the end zone since Week 6 when Peterman made the first and only good throw of his career before self-destructing. Aside from having to rely on Peterman, the Bills had a paltry 46 yards rushing last week and are averaging just 3.7 yards per rush on the season, so it’s not as if Peterman has much help around him.
There’s also the tiny matter of Chicago being strong defensively. Even without Khalil Mack playing last week, the Bears had little trouble shutting down the Jets’ rushing attack and keeping Sam Darnold’s completion percentage under 50%. Chicago’s pass rush, not surprisingly, wasn’t quite the same without Mack in the game. But even if Mack misses this week’s game, the Bears should find success against a porous Buffalo offensive line that has allowed 29 sacks in eight games this season.
On the other side of the ball, Mitchell Trubisky continues to grow and gain in confidence every week. He has four consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes while limiting himself to three interceptions during that span. The Bears also have a top-5 rushing game to give Trubisky plenty of support. Of course, Trubisky himself is the team’s second-leading rusher as he has the ability to scamper for yards when things break down.
To be fair, the Buffalo defense is better than people realize. That side of the ball hasn’t been the team’s problem during their recent losing streak. In fact, the Bills have a chance to keep this game close for a while on the back of their defense, much like they did last week.
Unfortunately for the Bills, their defense isn’t good enough to keep this game close for four quarters. Peterman is too turnover prone, which will make it that much more difficult for the Buffalo defense to keep the Bears out of the end zone. The Bills will also be lucky to score more than 10 or 12 points in this game. That should make a 10-point win quite manageable for the Bears, which is why I feel good about Chicago covering the spread in this game.