Buffalo Bills (11-3) at Chicago Bears (3-11)
The Bills haven’t been quite as dominant this season as they were last season, when all of their wins came by at least 12 points, leading to a +194 point differential that led the league. However, they have played better in one-score games, going 5-3 this year, after going 0-5 a year ago, which led to them going “just” 11-6, despite their league leading point differential. The Bills’ point differential is also still the second best in the league, only 8 points behind the Eagles, who have benefited significantly from a league leading turnover margin of +12, which is not predictive week-to-week (Buffalo is only at +1). In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is more predictive, the Bills lead the league at +9.80.
The biggest reason why the Bills haven’t been as dominant this season as last season is they have had more injuries and, while some key players have returned, they still are without several for this game, including starting center Mitch Morse, talented safety Micah Hyde, top edge defender Von Miller, key reserve edge defender Boogie Basham, top interior defender Ed Oliver, and key reserve interior defender Jordan Phillips. They’re facing a Bears team that is one of the worst in the league at 3-11, but the Bears have been competitive in most of their games, with 7 of their 11 losses coming by one-score, so the Bills aren’t guaranteed to blow them out in this game, especially on the road.
The Bills are also in a tough spot, as they have to play a much tougher game against the Bengals next week and easily could overlook the Bears as a result, with favorites of a touchdown or more covering at just a 42.0% rate against an opponent who has a winning percentage that is 50%+ lower than their next opponent’s winning percentage, which is the case here, as the Bengals are currently 10-4.
I’m still taking the Bills as 8-point favorites, as the Bills still have five double digit wins this season, mostly against teams better than the Bears, who are unlikely to be as good offensively this week with their talented starting guard duo of Cody Whitehair and Teven Jenkins being out due to injury, further exposing a defense that has been horrendous since losing edge defender Robert Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith to trades and safety Eddie Jackson to injury. However, there isn’t enough here for the Bills to be worth betting, as big road favorites in a bad way.
Buffalo Bills 34 Chicago Bears 24
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -8