Bears vs. Bills: What to Watch 4
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Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes is having a resurgent season. His 4½ sacks are more than the four he had last season. His 11 quarterback hits equal his 2017 total. Hughes also has forced three fumbles.
He will be a challenge for the left side of the Bears’ offensive line — left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and rookie left guard James Daniels.
“He’s been doing that for a long time, ever since college, and it doesn’t look like he’s getting any older, by any means,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s wreaking havoc on the quarterback, creating fumbles, sacks. He can stress a tackle.”
The Bears are one of two NFL teams that have yet to have a negative turnover differential in any game this season (the Seahawks are the other). The Bears are a plus-7 overall, winning the turnover battle four times in seven games.
Takeaways have played a big role in both of the Bills’ victories — plus-3 in a 27-6 victory over the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 3 and plus-2 in a 13-12 victory over the Titans in Week 5. They are minus-11 in turnover differential in their six losses.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Nagy and the coaching staff still are getting the hang of how to use two-time 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard in this offense. Howard has 392 yards and three touchdowns on 112 carries (3.5 average).
There have been signs of progress — Howard rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries against the Jets last week but had 61 yards on 16 carries in the second half, including a 24-yard run and a two-yard touchdown that gave the Bears a 24-10 lead with 7:08 left in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t have a great feel yet [for using the run game],” Nagy said. “I’m getting there. We’re all trying to figure out what’s the best thing for us.”
The Bills have lost three in a row and four of their last five, scoring only 37 points in that span. But they also pulled off one of the most mystifying regular-season upsets in recent history when they beat the Vikings as 16½-point underdogs — the biggest rout of a favorite of 15 points or more since the 1970 merger.
“When you play at their place, it’s very rowdy, very loud,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘They’re on top of you. They love their football. You better bring your ‘A’ game because if you don’t, you’re in trouble.”