Keys to Victory: What the Buffalo Bills Defense Needs to Do in Chicago Sunday Against the Bears

The time has finally arrived!

The NFL season kicks off this weekend, much to the delight of fans around the league.

For the Buffalo Bills, their season gets underway Sunday afternoon as they travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears.

The Buffalo Bills enter the season with high hopes for their young squad.

From top to bottom, this is one of the more talented teams that the Bills have put together in quite sometime. This Buffalo team has some elite playmakers and depth at multiple positions, on both sides of the ball.

The Bears team that will be taking the field against Buffalo has its share of playmaking talent as well. It is also a team that is stacked at the skill positions on the offensive side.

Chicago’s offense has the ability to put up some big numbers on the scoreboard. It is a team that averaged 27.8 points per game (tied for second in the league) and they can hurt you by both running the football, and through the air.

With question marks of their own on offense, the Bills defense needs to make sure they are up to the task of slowing down this explosive group of players that are lining up against them.

Here are my three keys to victory for the Buffalo Bills on the defensive side of the ball.

Slow down Matt Forte

Matt Forte is one of the most complete running backs in the entire National Football League.

He is a player that can hurt you not only by running the football, but with his receiving ability too, and is always just a quick cut away from taking it to the house.

Forte rushed for 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns and then added 74 receptions for 594 yards and another three receiving touchdowns last year en route to his second Pro Bowl appearance.

bears matt forteDespite being greatly improved last year, the Bills defense could still just not stop the run (a reoccurring trend over recent years). They finished 28th in the league in rushing yards against by allowing opposing teams to gain an average of 128.9 yards per game on the ground.

In an attempt to fix this problem, the Bills signed inside linebacker Brandon Spikes from the New England Patriots to a one-year deal in the offseason. Spikes is one of the best linebackers at stopping the run in football.

With one of the best defensive lines in football on his side, Spikes is going to be able to have the ability to roam the field and do what he does best, with as little interruption from opposing linemen as possible.

The addition already seems to be paying dividends in the preseason, as the team looked greatly improved in the run defense department.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is going to have his hands full trying to figure a way to keep Forte in check. The team is going to have to play very disciplined football. They need to set the edge to keep Forte inside, so he doesn’t have a chance to turn the corner and bust a long run.

Forte is electric in the open field, and the Bills are going to want to gang tackle him whenever possible. Screens are also going to be something the team needs to look out for. Over committing on one could cost them six.

At the end of the day, Forte is going to get his touches. It is going to be up to the Bills to make sure that they can at least keep those touches in check.

Create pressure on Jay Cutler

The Bills defense is made up of a lot of playmakers at different positions. This is a unit that had 23 interceptions and 57 sacks last season (both totals were second best in the league).

Jay Cutler is a quarterback who likes to take chances. He has a rocket for an arm and arguably the best wide receiving duo in the league to throw to (but more on rsz_1jay-cutler-green-bay-packers-v-chicago-bears-621gfv5hlzvxthem in a minute). He is going to throw a decent amount of contested balls in this game. Cutler has a ton of trust that his receivers will go up and win those jump balls.

If the Bills want to force some turnovers, the defense is going to have to get after Cutler.

The defensive line is going to have to get some good pressure on their own. I don’t see the Bills sending a lot of guys on blitzes when they have to worry about making sure their defense has enough coverage in the secondary.  Look for them to get creative when they do decide to blitz though.  Bills safety Da’Norris Searcy is sneaky good at blitzing from the secondary and is a player to keep an eye on.

If the Bills can create some pressure, they will force Cutler into some throws that he doesn’t want to make. With a deep, talented secondary, the Bills will have their chances to make some plays against the gunslinging quarterback.

Take advantage of these chances, and it will allow the team to win the battle of field position along with creating some short fields for their offense.

Secondary Play needs to be Outstanding

To put it simple, Brandon Marshall (100 receptions, 1295 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Alshon Jeffery (89, 1421, 7) are the best wide receiving duo in the league.

Their combination of such size and speed to go along with their specular catching ability make them almost uncoverable.

The Bills have good depth in terms of talent in the secondary, but Stephon Gilmore is the only Bills defensive back listed at over six-feet tall on the roster. They are going to have to rely more on skills and instinct because both Bears receivers are going to have size advantages over the guys in coverage.

The secondary is also going to have to make sure they are accounting for tight end Martellus Bennett. He is another large target who can make some plays downfield.

A good mix of man and zone will have to be used to slow down these receivers. Over-the-top help will be needed at all times. Look for the Bills secondary to take away the deep ball and make Cutler beat them with good throws in the short and intermediate range.


The Bills best chance to win is to make the Bears offense one-dimensional. It is sort of like a pick your poison when going against Chicago, and I would much rather leave the game to Cutler vs. the secondary than letting Matt Forte run wild over you.

Cutler is going to take some chances and try to force some throws into some tight windows. The Bills need to capitalize on their chances to get this dangerous offense off the field.

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