By BOB LeGERE
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – After Sunday’s 41-9 victory, the 5-3 Bears are in first place in the NFC North, a half-game ahead of the 5-3-1 Vikings, and they occupy a position of strength as they prepare for three straight games against division opponents.
The Bears host the 3-5 Lions and Vikings the next two Sundays before a rematch against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
“Those are the games we know we need to be our best,” said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, whose
12 tackles against the Bills were one fewer than ILB Roquan Smith’s game high. “We’re staying hungry, and we’re not getting complacent. We want to keep being the best and being a better team every week, working hard, pushing one another.”
The Bears haven’t played an NFC North foe since they lost to the Packers, 24-23, in the season opener, but five of their final eight games are within the division.
“It’s going to take a whole other level [of play],” said outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who returned his first career interception 19 yards for a touchdown Sunday. “They know us, we know them. Our level of play is going to have to rise even more.”
All things considered
Despite quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s mediocre numbers – 12-of-20 passing for 135 yards, one touchdown, one interceptions and a 76.0 passer rating – coach Matt Nagy was satisfied, considering the opponent.
“I cannot tell you how good this defense is,” Nagy said.“Our guys knew that all week long. We talked about bringing his lunch pail all week. It was going to be a physical game.”
The Bills came in as the No. 6 defense in the NFL in yards allowed and No. 5 in yards per play allowed. They no doubt improved those rankings after permitting the Bears only 190 yards and 4.1 yards a play.
“We won, and that’s always the only thing that matters,”Nagy said. “And there were times when [Trubisky] led the team, and he made plays where we needed to make plays, and that’s what’s most important in this process with Mitch. He’s putting us in great situations, so I’m really just proud of him.”
Lots of laundry
The Bears played by far their sloppiest game of the season penalty-wise, as they were flagged 14 times for 129 yards; both double the numbers in their next-worst performance under Nagy.
Their previous high for penalties in a game was seven, against the Seahawks and Cardinals in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. The Bears’ previous high for penalty yards was 58 against the Dolphins in Week 6.
Left tackle Charles Leno was flagged three times for false starts,and cornerback Prince Amukamara was called for pass interference twice and holding once.
OLB Aaron Lynch, who had his third sack, had a face mask penalty and another 15-yard walk-off for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Bills were far from innocent bystanders, as they were penalized
10 times for 163 yards.
Sitting it out
Bears OLB Khalil Mack (ankle) and receiver Allen Robinson (groin) were both inactive against the Bills. Both missed last week’s game and were questionable on Friday’s injury report after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday practices and being limited Friday.
Last week’s game was the first Mack has missed in his five-year career.
Neither move was as surprising as WR Kevin White’s healthy scratch. The former first-round pick has been used sporadically, but he had his most productive game of the season two weeks ago, when he caught two passes for 64 yards.
“Kevin and our coaching staff and myself, we’ve had some talks and [that was] just the direction we decided to go for this game,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Nothing by any means is permanent. Kevin is in a good place, and I appreciate him being that way. No discipline. He’s healthy.”
Tight end Dion Sims left late in the game and is in the concussion protocol.
Also inactive for the Bears were rookie DL Bilal Nichols (knee), TE Ben Braunecker (concussion), CB Marcus Cooper and OL Rashaad Coward. Inactive for the Bills were QBs Josh Allen (elbow) and Derek Anderson (concussion), DE Trent Murphy (knee), MLB Tremaine Edmunds (concussion), OG Ike Boettger, OT Conor McDermott and WR Cam Phillips.