Bears-Bills: 3 matchups to watch in Week 16


(670 The Score) It’s Week 16. The Bears are coming off a cold matchup against arguably the best team in the NFL and barreling straight into a cold matchup against arguably the best team in the NFL. But at least this one’s on a holiday on which you would otherwise be enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation? Oh, that makes it worse? Ah! Well, nevertheless. The gauntlet continues this Saturday, with the Buffalo Bills in town. Of course the Bears would finally get some natural home-field advantage (although does anyone have an advantage with -25 wind chill?) and are playing literally the only other team that’s prepared for it. But that’s life in the NFL. And in the arctic. Anyway, here are a few matchups to watch.

Bears QB Justin Fields vs. everything!!! 
You call this dramatic, I call it appropriate for this point in the season and you a buzzkill. I could easily pick out some sort of matchup on Pro Football Focus or look at DVOA, but I just kinda feel like none of that matters anymore? This is who we’re all watching. It also doesn’t help that the Bears will have, at most, one or two pass catchers who have a future playing professional football, and it’s also going to be cold as shit. Throwing the ball effectively is going to be almost impossible at times, and taking hits while running is going to be one of the more painful experiences of Fields' football-playing life. He talked a bit this week about wanting more protection from those late hits that we’ve been watching all season – this week would be a great time for that to kick in. How Fields deals with the conditions is a legitimately interesting storyline to me, and if you disagree, you’re in luck because boring football-y matchups are below. Weather!!!

Bears TE Cole Kmet vs. Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds
I picked the Bills’ top-rated linebacker on PFF, but it really could just be " Kmet vs. any Bills linebacker." Basically, they’re all (mostly) good. Edmunds ranks 12th out of 84 middle linebackers, according to PFF, and Will linebacker Matt Milano also ranks 12th out of 84 Will linebackers. It’s very convenient. They’ll be the ones, more often than not, picking up a lot of Kmet’s intermediate routes and then ones he has to run over to get those extra four or five yards that Bears fans love him for. Kmet’s had a … confusing? … season. He’s become that red-zone target who everyone except Matt Nagy thought he could be, but that’s sorta it. Minus some sort of remarkable three-week stretch from him, he’s going to finish somewhat short of his receptions and yardage numbers from 2021. And sure, you’d trade 15 receptions and 120 random yards for a bunch of touchdowns, but the overall picture still seems a little meh. If Kmet is going to grow into a bigger role this season, now is the time. That isn't even really smart analysis, there just aren’t many games left.

Bears CB Jaylon Johnson vs. Bills WR Stefon Diggs 
I thought Johnson’s performance against Eagles receiver A.J. Brown last Sunday was an appropriate microcosm for his season – he played super well at times, gave up a few balls that mayyyyyybe the elite cornerbacks in today’s NFL wouldn’t and fought valiantly through an injury. Still, he’s unquestionably the best player in the Bears’ secondary, even with ascending play from rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and rookie safety Jaquan Brisker. Diggs needs no introduction and is just as – if not more – of a threat as Brown was. Overall, he's third in receptions (99), third in yards (1,299) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (10) in the NFL. He's basically top five in any other category that interests you. Conversations about a new contract for Johnson have already started popping up. An eye-test tie against Brown was a good start, but getting torched in the box score in back-to-back weeks isn’t going to do him any favors. Fortunately for Johnson, it’ll be -100 degrees.

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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