BEARS - WR Airese Currie (foot), DT Dusty Dvoracek (foot), FB Bryan Johnson (leg), S Brandon McGowan (knee), Jamar Williams (shoulder)
BILLS - S Troy Vincent (hamstring)
BEARS - none
BILLS - none
BEARS - none
BILLS - OG Chris Villarrial
BEARS - WR Mark Bradley (ankle), TE Desmond Clark (foot), LB Leon Joe (hamstring), DE Adewale Ogunleye (hamstring)
BILLS - S Matt Bowen (shin), TE Robert Royal (ankle), LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring)
BEARS - none
BILLS - none
Bears Offense vs. Bills Defense:
Tight end Desmond Clark started and played into the second half against Seattle in spite of a foot injury suffered in the previous game. He made a few key grabs before being pulled when the contest was well in hand. Gabe Reid and John Gilmore saw additional time and performed well. Fullback Jason McKie suffered a hand injury but only missed a few snaps and is expected to play against the Bills. Wide receiver Mark Bradley (ankle) has struggled to return to action after suffering a knee injury last season. Airese Currie was recently placed on injured reserve (foot), making room for Justin Gage to get back into the mix. Bernard Berrian (15 receptions for 316 yards and 3 TDs) has flourished with the extra repetitions. Berrian is developing into a legitimate game-changing deep threat, stretching secondaries to open things up for Clark and Muhsin Muhammad.
Strongside linebacker Takeo Spikes has had a rocky return from last year's Achilles' injury. He started the first game of the season only to be lost to a pulled hamstring. Rookie Keith Ellison has been a pleasant surprise stepping in for Spikes. Buffalo has received a high level of play from this sixth-rounder out of Oregon State. Rookie safety Donte Whitner has latched onto a starting position since Week 2. Safety Matt Bowen hasn't been able to make it onto the field with a lower leg injury. Whitner joins fellow rookie safety Ko Simpson in the middle of Buffalo's secondary. In spite of some injuries to key players, the Bills have performed well on defense. Buffalo is holding opponents to an average of less than 16 points per game. They're getting good production from ends Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay, both of whom have 3 sacks.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell has coached with Lovie Smith and brings a scheme very familiar to the current one run by the Bears. Chicago has seen quite a few schemes similar to their own thus far. It will be interesting to see if they can continue to find openings in the passing game and the rushing attack can build on the good performance of last week. Look for the Bears to try opening up running lanes against the interior of the Bills defense. Buffalo's tackles are smaller than those they faced against Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit. For the Bills to be successful, they'll need to pressure quarterback Rex Grossman up the middle and reduce his passing lanes. Denney's height could become a factor if the Bears are forced into shorter drops.
Bears Defense vs. Seahawks Offense:
Overall, the Chicago defense is relatively healthy heading into this contest with the exception of defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (hamstring). If Ogunleye misses time, that will present more opportunities for rookie Mark Anderson (3.5 sacks). Anderson has made the most of limited reps substituting for both Ogunleye and Alex Brown while reserve Israel Idonije was coming back from an ankle sprain. It would not be surprising to see Anderson move ahead of Idonije as the first end off the bench. The fifth-rounder was particularly impressive last week against perennial All-Pro Walter Jones.
The Bills suffered a major blow when guard Chris Villarrial limped off the field with a sprained ankle last week. The former Bear has been a consistent, steadying force on a transitioning Bills line. Duke Preston is expected to assume Villarrial's duties. Villarrial's run blocking has helped lead the way for running back Willis McGahee (99 carries for 389 yards). McGahee was a top performer last year, as well. The big difference on offense for Buffalo this year has been the maturation of J.P. Losman. The third-year QB has completed 64 percent of his passes and only thrown one interception.
The Bears face another team with injuries at offensive guard. This could be another big game for Tommie Harris (5 sacks), who has arguably been the Defensive Player of the Year through the first quarter of the season. The Bears have gotten quite a bit of pressure from their front four. Don't be surprised if they change things up by mixing in some blitzes this week, especially from linebacker Brian Urlacher. No. 54 is poised for a breakout game. Look for Buffalo to establish McGahee and set up play action to their wide receivers.