The Chicago Bears improved their record to 5-3 on Sunday following a 41- 9 beat down of the Buffalo Bills. Chicago took advantage of four Buffalo turnovers leading to 24 points attributed to their mistakes. The win is an important one as it allowed several on the team to rediscover themselves before a stretch of three consecutive divisional games with national eyes beginning to take notice.
An impressive defensive showing was important to a Bears defense that had struggled to consistently create impact plays over the last few weeks. Sunday’s game was the first time since week four in which the defense had recorded multiple sacks and a turnover in the same game
. In the game, the Bears sacked quarterback Nathan Peterman four times as they had not sacked an opposing quarterback multiple times since the Tampa Bay game. It was also the first time all season that the defense held an opposing offense to a single digit score.
With All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack sidelined with an ankle injury, many of the individual defensive stars stood out when the team needed them the most. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd had his best game of the season as he was heavily involved early in the game whether it was stopping the Bills running backs for short yardage carries or his coverage in the passing game.
In the first quarter, Floyd rightfully diagnosed a wide receiver screen set up for running back LeSean McCoy and tackled him for minimal gain. His biggest play on the season came as he was in the right place for a tipped pass and intercepted a Peterman pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.
It was also a big and important day for the Bears secondary as three of the four members of the starting secondary each recorded a turnover. Cornerback Kyle Fuller was key as he had a hand in all of the Bears interceptions on the day.
The first two interceptions came on deflected passes by Fuller who got his hand on the pass and had one for himself late in the game. Safety Eddie Jackson remerged as he had his first turnover since week four and had his third defensive score in just his second season.
Although the defense allowed their first opposing rushing touchdown this season on a one-yard quarterback sneak, they had their first game in which they didn’t allow a passing touchdown this year.
A bounce-back game is key as the next three games for the team will against divisional opponents and will be key in their ability to not only win the division but to make it to the playoffs. The scheduling of the games is daunting as they will have three games in a span of 11 days with a game against the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.
They will host the Lions, Vikings, and then travel to play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. Details on the full schedule can be found here.
The last two wins against the Jets and Bills were important from a health standpoint as it allowed some of the team’s most important players to rest nagging injuries. Mack had missed the last two games with the team’s goal to have him ready for the upcoming divisional stretch as on offense they had the same goal for wide receiver Allen Robinson.
A scheduling changed only heightened the team’s decision as the NFL flexed the Vikings Bears week 11 game from a 12 pm start to a Sunday Night 7:20 pm start time. Following the game, it would give the Bears only three days of rest and prep time for their Thanksgiving game against the Lions that Thursday at 11:30 AM.
Having their game flexed to primetime also shows that the league and the networks are taking notice of the Bears to return to prominence. It is the first Bears game to be flexed to primetime since 2013 and the first Sunday Night game in Chicago since 2012. It might not be the last Bears game this to be flexed as with back to back quality games in primetime against the Vikings and Lions, the week 14 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams at home could be flexed to Sunday Night Also.
Sunday’s win over Buffalo was important for so many reasons. Although they beat a team they were supposed to beat, the win in the long-term means so much more. Embattled players were able to get their confidence back before a grouping of all important games within the division. Their performance in the first half has been recognized as their games are being shown to a national audience going forward. The two add up to show that Bears football will be fun and meaningful come December for the first time in a while.