The Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills will meet Saturday for a Christmas Eve gathering at Soldier Field. The Bears, on a seven-game shedding skid, will proceed their seek for encouraging indicators inside a last-place season whereas the Bills are nonetheless eyeing the No. 1 seed and a first-round playoff bye within the AFC.
Here’s a snapshot have a look at Saturday’s sport.
How a lot will the climate issue into Saturday’s sport?
The snow shall be lengthy passed by kickoff, leaving heavy winds and brutal chilly as probably the most difficult components. The National Weather Service is predicting a daytime excessive of 9 levels with windchills dipping under minus-10. Winds of 25 mph with gusts above 30 mph are also anticipated.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus was requested this week if he had ever coached in a sport with such excessive circumstances — and instantly referenced Dec. 9, 2013, when he visited Soldier Field as a linebackers coach with the Dallas Cowboys.
That was a Monday night time sport with a kickoff temperature of 8 levels, a windchill of minus-9 and winds at 14 mph.
“Couldn’t feel my feet,” Eberflus mentioned. “It was very cold. You had to really make sure all your skin was covered because you would potentially get frostbite. You had to make sure you used Vaseline on your face to make sure everything was covered up.”
The Bears didn’t have a lot difficulty coping with that excessive climate, scoring six touchdowns and two discipline objectives on their first eight possessions in a Josh McCown-led 45-28 victory.
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy had this recommendation for gamers.
“How you stay warm is stepping on the field and playing violently, playing together and celebrating together,” Getsy mentioned. “That’s how you stay warm. You deal with it. And if it’s on your mind or it’s distracting you, then you’re not going to be able to execute at the highest level.”
Player within the highlight
When the Bears schedule was launched within the spring, cornerback Jaylon Johnson made a brief listing of three receivers he couldn’t wait to face: Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs.
Hill visited Soldier Field final month and Jefferson will swing by in Week 18. This weekend, it’s Diggs who will provide Johnson his subsequent massive problem.
Diggs enters Saturday ranked third within the NFL in catches (99), receiving yards (1,299) and receiving touchdowns (10). That’s a byproduct of his elite talent set.
“He’s really crafty,” Johnson mentioned. “He creates a lot of separation with his releases. He’s very dynamic with his route running. And it also helps having a quarterback who can throw the ball a million yards.”
Diggs additionally has developed plain top-tier chemistry with quarterback Josh Allen. The duo has related for 28 landing passes because the begin of 2020.
“(Allen) knows where he wants the ball at and Diggs knows the timing of where (Allen’s) best ball is and what his progressions are,” Johnson mentioned. “Them knowing each other really well just enhances everything on the field.”
Another problem for Johnson? A damaged bone in his left hand, which probably would require him to put on a membership Saturday.
Johnson drew the task final week of touring with Eagles star A.J. Brown. And whereas Brown’s numbers have been eye-catching — 9 catches for 181 yards — Johnson’s aggressive tenacity and general effort in slowing the large receiver was famous by Bears coaches. He additionally had three go breakups, together with one on a 23-yard end-zone shot from Jalen Hurts.
“I thought he was competitive and fighting through the whole time,” Eberflus mentioned. “He had a good attitude; his demeanor was great the entire day. That’s the way you’ve got to be when you’re facing an elite receiver.”
Added Johnson: “I feel like I won more than I lost. And he made some big plays that made the numbers seem like it was worse than it was. But overall, I felt like it was a back-and-forth battle. That was my goal going into the game. It was about being on an island and winning more than I lost. And I feel like I did that.”
Keep an eye fixed on …
During his four-game stint on injured reserve with a hip harm, Bears working again Khalil Herbert tried to achieve a brand new perspective and pored over his movie from Weeks 1-10, trying to discover enchancment areas.
“It was me being my own worst critic and looking at the good, the bad, the ugly,” he mentioned Thursday. “One of the biggest things for me is falling forward on all my runs. Taking away the negative plays. Trying to find a way to get a yard if things break down.”
Hebert shall be activated from injured reserve and figures to mix again into the offense with a notable function alongside fellow again David Montgomery. Herbert has averaged six yards per carry this season, tops amongst NFL working backs with at the least 100 rushes.
Getsy lauded Herbert’s endurance as a runner as a catalyst for his manufacturing.
“It’s really just working with our coaches and getting a feel for the offense since April really,” mentioned Herbert, who is keen to place the ending touches on an encouraging season. “That has helped me a lot. It’s really diving into the details of each run we put in. That helps me slow things down. It’s a feel thing.”
Justin Fields has an opportunity to set an NFL single-season file for dashing yards by a quarterback, needing 207 over the ultimate three video games to high the mark Lamar Jackson set throughout his MVP season in 2019.
After Sunday’s 95-yard efficiency, Fields emphasised he didn’t plan on pursuing 1,000-yard dashing campaigns each season, hoping to finally turn into rather more of a menace as a passer. But Fields additionally acknowledged it will be cool to interrupt Jackson’s file if all the celebs align.
To that finish, Getsy mentioned the offense wouldn’t make selections primarily based on Fields’ pursuit of a person achievement. But Getsy famous how Kevon Looney was one help shy of a triple-double in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers final week and teammates dogged Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr to assist the ahead accomplish that feat.
“And they took him out of the game,” Getsy mentioned with a smile. “We won’t take (Justin) out of the game.”
Loosely translated: The Bears hope Fields will produce for the offense. And wherever that leaves him on the all-time QB dashing chart, so be it.
Fields has three landing runs this season of at the least 50 yards and 4 different runs of at the least 25 yards. Getsy mentioned he didn’t essentially have a favourite Fields run however felt a rush on all the large ones.
“He has made some incredible plays,” Getsy mentioned. “And I think I’ve gone to Flus every single time like, ‘That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.’ To be able to say that multiple times is pretty cool.”
The Bears are bracing for the likelihood that neither Cody Whitehair (uncertain, knee) nor Teven Jenkins (uncertain, neck) will play. That creates the most recent reshuffling train on the offensive line, with the Bears probably utilizing their eighth beginning mixture in 15 video games. Veteran Michael Schofield figures to fill in at one of many two guard spots with Larry Borom doubtlessly getting the nod on the different.
Receiver Chase Claypool additionally might miss his second consecutive sport, nonetheless working by a knee harm he suffered in Week 13. Claypool was additionally unable to apply this week and is listed as uncertain.
The Bears receiving corps shall be additional short-handed with Equanimeous St. Brown nonetheless in concussion protocol and declared out. Kindle Vildor (ankle) and Trevon Wesco (calf) are also out.
Brad Biggs (8-6)
However arctic the circumstances are at Soldier Field, the Bills are one in all a handful of groups that routinely performs in brutal climate, in all probability extra usually than the Bears. Temperatures barely above zero gained’t have a huge effect on offensive soccer, however excessive winds shall be problematic for the passing video games — and that would assist the Bears defend the league’s fifth-ranked passing assault. The Bears are much better working the ball, which ought to assist them preserve it shut.
Bills 23, Bears 20
Colleen Kane (9-5)
The Bears are coping with a slew of accidents to key gamers, and that’s tough when taking over two actually robust opponents in two weeks. Like the Jalen Hurts-A.J. Brown connection Sunday, the Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection goes to be a significant check for the Bears secondary until the chilly, windy circumstances mute it. The Bears might put up massive numbers on the bottom, however I don’t know if will probably be sufficient in opposition to one of many NFL’s finest groups. It additionally feels as if the Bears drew the fallacious opponent for a winter storm sport, because the Bills certainly know how one can deal with this climate.
Bills 27, Bears 23
Dan Wiederer (9-5)
The winter storm provided the Bills extra logical hurdles in attending to Chicagoand getting settled and ready for Saturday’s sport. It additionally may give the Bears a gap to make use of their league-best dashing assault to regulate the clock and shorten the sport. For a younger workforce, and notably for budding second-year quarterback Justin Fields, that is one other expertise to embrace and be taught from. But the Bills are Super Bowl contenders for a cause. They have extra playmakers.
Bills 27, Bears 16