Sunday Snapshot: Bears vs. Bills

The NFL experts from The Sports Xchange come up with everything you need to know prior to Sunday's contest, as the Chicago Bears are set to take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 at the Rogers Centre.

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. Central
Surface: FieldTurf
Television: FOX – Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers
Series History: 11th regular-season meeting. Bears lead series 6-4. Chicago won the last meeting 40-7 in 2006.

KEYS TO THE GAME
The Bears used a portion of the bye week to focus on rediscovering their flat-lined running game. The Bills' defense has been epically bad against the run, and four of their last five opponents rushed for at least 200 yards. The need for Buffalo is to keep the Bears in long down-and-distance situations. The Bills have been sharp on third down – opponents have converted just 10 of 37 the past three games – and the Bears' offense is last in the NFL in third-down conversions (17.9 percent). Chicago will keep the ball in the hands of RB Matt Forte, who has averaged 102.8 yards from scrimmage in the past four road games. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had 10 touchdown passes in October, and WR Lee Evans is again a big factor in a more complete offense.

FAST FACTS
Four of the Bills' seven games have been decided by eight or fewer points. ... QB Jay Cutler had 663 passing yards in two previous starts against Buffalo.


S Major Wright
Scott Boehm/Getty

PERSONNEL NEWS
Bears:
LB Lance Briggs (ankle) was not limited at a Thursday practice for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle in Week 5 and will start on Sunday. ... CB Zack Bowman (foot) did not practice on Thursday and will not play Sunday. ... S Major Wright will play Sunday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 2 and could be rotated in with starters Chris Harris and Danieal Manning. ... G Roberto Garza is expected to start Sunday for the first time since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after starting the first five games at left guard. But Garza will be back at right guard Sunday, where he started the previous four seasons. ... WR Earl Bennett is second on the team with 20 catches since Week 2 after missing all of the preseason and Week 1 with a hamstring injury. ... G Chris Williams, who started the first two games at left tackle and was underwhelming, is expected to stay at left guard, where he has started the past two games but is miscast because he is more rangy than stout. ... OT J'Marcus Webb is expected to remain at right tackle, where he's been for the past three games, as the Bears seek to solidify their offensive line for the second half of the season.

Bills: LB Shawne Merriman was claimed off waivers. The three-time Pro Bowl pick for the San Diego Chargers, who has seen his career derailed by injuries and a steroid suspension, isn't expected to play this Sunday against Chicago but is on track to play the second half of the year with the Bills. He's due to become a free agent in 2011 and has an opportunity to showcase himself for Buffalo and other teams. ... OT Cornell Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury suffered two weeks ago. Green was expected back, but the team needed to free up a roster spot after claiming Merriman off waivers. ... CB Terrence McGee, who has missed three games with a back/nerve injury, is practicing fully and expected to play Sunday against Chicago in Toronto. Buffalo defensive backs have yet to intercept a pass. ... LB Andra Davis is nursing a sore shoulder again but is expected to play Sunday against Chicago in Toronto. The Bills' run defense remains last in the NFL and faces the versatile Forte. ... G Eric Wood was given time to rest this week. He needs to sit out practice to help a sore knee/leg recover. He broke his leg in two places last season but hasn't missed a start. He is expected to be fine for Sunday's game against Chicago in Toronto. ... LB Aaron Maybin, the team's No. 1 pick in 2009 who has been inactive for the past two games, will slide farther down the depth chart after the team claimed the veteran Merriman off waivers. Maybin's chances of getting on the field the rest of the season are bleak if Merriman can resurrect his career in Buffalo.

PREDICTION
Bills 24, Bears 23.


Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard on our message board RIGHT HERE.

Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.


Bear Report Top Stories