Bills Beat Bears, Win 24-21 in Preseason Finale


The Bills finish the preseason strong, earning a win against the Chicago Bears, 24-21. A much better outing from top to bottom this week, a welcome sign after last week’s flop against the Steelers. With fewer penalties the Bills seemed to operate much better, cleaner, and smoother than they did the previous two weeks. Starters and backups all played well, and there are some tough decisions that the Bills will have to make come cutdown day.

As is the norm here, we’ll explore the most inspiring part of the game, the position that still has some questions to be answered, another position that requires a better performance come the regular season, and the most irksome part of the game. 

Inspire-(Fewer) Penalties:

After two weeks of earning lots of penalties in the preseason, the Bills stepped up and stayed disciplined, only having 2 penalties for a total of 20 yards. A far cry from last week’s debacle of 12 penalties in the first half alone, the Bills looked far more focused, prepared, and ready to play a real game of football. Granted, it still isn’t that real, as it’s the preseason, but regardless, this was a problem for two weeks, and after it seemed to reach a head against the Steelers last week, it seems to have been corrected. In reality, penalties are a part of the game, and every team will have penalties, and some refs are more stringent while others are more lax. In any case, the Bills had a clear problem, and addressed it, and hopefully that carries over into the regular season as well. 

Inquire-CB Rotation:

There’s been an awful lot of hullabalo regarding who will be manning the spot opposite of Tre White in 2023. Unlike the MIKE Linebacker spot (which will be addressed below) the Bills have plenty of good and legitimate options to play at this position. Regardless of Bills fans’ consensus on Dane Jackson, he is a perfectly capable starter at CB2, and has plenty of experience in this defense to be in the spot he needs to be, make plays, and do his 1/11th. Kaiir Elam has been a bit disappointing thus far in his career, but his athletic profile makes him a viable option no matter what, and if he can tweak his style of play enough to not be as handsy and incur as a many penalties, then he has more than a reasonable chance to be this team’s future CB2 even as soon as this season if Dane Jackson doesn’t perform to his usual self. Regardless of either of the previous two, the Bills have another option in Christian Benford, who started in week 1 against the Rams in 2022 opposite of Dane Jackson while Tre White was still recovering from his ACL tear. Benford has looked solid in preseason play, and to be realistic, the Bills realize they have a glut of talent at the CB position. But that’s not an inherently bad thing in today’s NFL, and if they decide to rotate guys in the way they did with Kevin Johnson and Levi Wallace in 2019, then the idea of “who’s the starter?” is a bit moot. 

Require-MIKE Linebacker:

The Bills have a big question mark at MIKE linebacker. It’s not a secret, the Bills are well aware of the issue, and unfortunately, it seems there’s no clear answer for who will start at the position. In the preseason the Bills have used longtime backup Tyrel Dodson, and veteran A.J. Klein in the spot, but the player Bills fans should expect to start at that spot is probably Terrel Bernard. The problem is that the 2nd year Linebacker from Baylor hasn’t played at all during the preseason due to a lingering hamstring injury he suffered during training camp. This was a big question for the Bills coming into training camp, and with camp now wrapped up and the preseason in the books, it’s still a big question mark. At this point it’s such a question mark that it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the Bills decide to start Tyrel Dodson in week 1, or cut him as soon as they can. One would hope that Terrel Bernard is healthy enough to start week 1, and given that he was warming up before the Bears game seems like a good sign, but this position and how the Bills decide to play it will be the biggest mystery of the regular season. Frankly, regardless of who they decide to play at the position, the Bills need far better play from that player than what they have gotten out of the preseason, whoever that is.

Irk-Lack of pass rush (sort of): 

It’s hard to find a particularly irksome aspect from today’s game outside of the typical preseason gaffes of some blown coverages and missed tackles. If there’s something irksome worth talking about, it’s not being as strong in the pass rush game as perhaps a talented and well-built the Bills’ defensive line is. That being said, with the Bills’ run defense being in question after a lackluster game against the Steelers last week, the Bills did very well against the run against the NFL’s best rushing attack from 2023. Regardless the pass rush didn’t generate a ton of consistent pressure against an average offensive line that has some new parts and pieces. 

The next time the Buffalo Bills play will be in a real, honest to God football game with points that matter and stakes on the line. The Bills will take on their rival New York Jets in New Jersey on Monday Night Football at 8:15 P.M. The Bills have struggled against the Jets in recent years, and the addition of Aaron Rodgers at QB is nothing to take lightly, however, there is far more pressure on the Jets to look strong out of the gate than the Bills. It will certainly be an exciting game if nothing else, and I, for one, am glad to be able to bring your recaps for the 3rd straight season with Cover 1. Let’s have a great season together; Go Bills.