The Bears host the Bills this afternoon, and it could be the coldest home game in team history. Chicago is 6-4 in its 10 coldest games, but it’s asking a lot for a 3-11 team with a seven-game losing streak to beat one of the NFL’s best. I know from experience what it’s like to attend a game in these types of conditions. My buddy and I went to a game in 2004 where the windchill was -8, and our beers froze. Fingers, too, for that matter.
The frigid weather could take some of the air out of both teams’ passing attacks, so expect a run-heavy affair. Justin Fields has ripped off 15 runs of 15 yards or more this season, many in jaw-dropping fashion.
Justin Fields with his weekly "holy cow" moment. Just absurd. pic.twitter.com/GF5X9eG5Kn
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 18, 2022
“When I’m in the middle, I really at first look to protect myself,” Fields said. “I’ve just got to feel where the defenders are. If I feel they’re barely coming to me or they think I might slide and I see a little crease, I’ll just hit that crease. … Then I can kind of feel when the defense is being lazy. I’ll just take advantage of that.”
The Bears are asking fans who attend today’s game to take precautions against the weather. Fans will be allowed to bring in battery-operated clothing and blankets. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available throughout the stadium from in-seat vendors. Auto assistance staff will be on hand, too. If you’re tailgating, the following items are prohibited: tents, canopies, or umbrellas of any size, tethered blimps, balloons, and other oversized inflatables flags, firepits/open fires, deep fryers or any oil-based cooking or frying, open flames, and infrared panel or propane heaters of any type.
Tickets are still available, with some selling for as low as six bucks.
The Bills are favored by nine and a hook this afternoon, and the Bears are +310 on the money line (bet $100 on Chicago to win straight up and get $310). Today’s over/under is 40, which seems a little low. I’m not going to let the weather scare me into taking the under. The Bears and their opponents have topped that mark in eight straight games, and 10 of the previous 12.
It’s going to be about 7-10 degrees at kickoff with west winds gusting up to 30 MPH. The conditions favor the Bears’ running attack, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen should have plenty of success using short passes. Cairo Santos has really struggled this season, and the Bears can’t afford to miss on any scoring opportunities. Those winds won’t inspire a lot of confidence among Chicago’s fans.
Fields is the team’s leading rusher and he has exactly 1,000 yards this season. He’s rushed for eight scores, and he’s thrown 15 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions. Chicago leads the NFL in rushing, and they’re averaging 186.9 yards per game. The Bears are 5-8-1 against the spread this year, and 3-3 when the spread is a touchdown or more. The heavy money is on the Bears with the points, though 77% of all bets favor the Bills. The sportsbooks need the Bears to cover today, obviously.
Despite his prowess as a runner, Fields really struggles in the short passing game. He needs to improve today. Look for a higher-than-usual number of shuffle passes to wideouts, as well as a screen-heavy attack with David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, and Trestan Ebner. The Bears are averaging 20.7 points per game while allowing 25.6. That said, their defense has shown improvement in each of the last two games. The Bears will be without two of their top defenders today, though. Jack Sanborn and Jaylon Johnson are both out for the season.
Buffalo has played just one game with less than 40 total points, and that was a 20-17 loss to the Jets in Week 9. In fact, the Bills have topped 30 points by themselves in six games, and are 3-3 O/U in their last six games. The Bears are 7-1 O/U in their previous eight.
Allen is known as more of a passing quarterback, but he does lead the Bills in rushing with 705 yards. He’s also thrown for 3,857 yards and 30 touchdowns. His top target is Stefon Diggs, who has 1,299 receiving yards along with 10 scores. Running backs Devin Singletary and James Cook have combined for 53 receptions and two touchdowns. It will be cold, but the weather should not prevent Buffalo from scoring in bunches.
Why the Bears Will Win
Montgomery from Fields!
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
Chicago has played a lot of good teams very close. The Bears have lost eight games by one score, though they’ve not faced an offense as prolific as Buffalo’s. Keeping the score close obviously improves Chicago’s chances of winning. Montgomery and Fields must have big games, and opponents are averaging 4.4 yards per carry against the Bills.
The Bears also need to control the clock. Keeping Allen on the sidelines for as long as possible will prevent him from finding his rhythm. Chicago has a -1 turnover ratio and will need takeaways to have any chance of winning. Eddie Jackson leads the Bears with four interceptions, and Kyler Gordon has two. Nicholas Morrow has the most tackles on the team with 95, and Jaquan Brisker is Chicago’s sack leader with three. The Bears’ pass rush has been pitiful this season.
Most of all, the Bears need an injury-free game. Their roster has been depleted by nearly 25% since the trade deadline. Sitting Fields out is almost worth considering.
Why the Bills Will Win
Who needs time when you can just make it?@JoshAllenQB, everybody.
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
Buffalo has one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Bills have four receivers with 40+ catches, led by Diggs and Gabe Davis. Tight end Dawson Knox has 43 receptions with four touchdowns. Allen has accounted for 4,562 total yards with 36 touchdowns. The Bears have one of the league’s weakest defenses, so Buffalo should be able to score at will.
The Bills also have one of the NFL’s strongest defenses. They’re ranked sixth overall, but they do tend to miss tackles, especially downfield. Buffalo will try to contain Fields and keep him in the pocket. He’s tough to bring down, and if he gets into the open field, he’ll score. Buffalo really misses Von Miller and Micah Hyde. Jordan Poyer leads the Bills with four interceptions, and Greg Rousseau has seven sacks, trailing Miller by one. Linebacker Matt Milano has 12 TFLs in 13 games.
- Bears: Sanborn (ankle), Johnson (finger), and CB Kindle Vildor (ankle) are the newest additions to the IR, and they’re all out. WR Equanimeous St. Brown is in concussion protocol so he is also out. WR Chase Claypool (knee) and OL Teven Jenkins (neck) are doubtful and probably won’t play. OL Cody Whitehair (knee) is also listed as doubtful. The Bears are down to five wide receivers with Darnell Mooney also on injured reserve. Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, and N’Keal Harry will probably start today.
- Bills: Miller and Hyde are on IR so they’re both out. DE Boogie Basham (calf) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) are also out. Defensive tackles Ed Oliver (calf) and Jordan Phillips (shoulder) are considered questionable.
Our own Sean Holland previewed today’s game on Thursday and gave the Bills a 17-10 win. I don’t believe the weather will slow either team’s offense, and though I think the Bears will keep it close for a while, I’m taking Buffalo by the score of 38-17.