The season is finally here for the Buffalo Bills and time to make the weekly pick. The team staggered to the end of preseason with more questions than answers and the optimism fans showed in July has quickly dissipated. That said, it’s tough not to have some optimism when the slate is clean.

The Bills will be in Chicago and starting the season on the road is never easy. However, facing the Bears is an interesting match-up because the Bills have questions on offense while the Bears have questions on defense. Like the Bills, Chicago struggled against the run last year and has reshuffled their defense to improve in that area.

Doug Marrone will definitely try to establish the run against Chicago’s defense. One, because the Bears have been vulnerable in that area in the past and two, it will help EJ Manuel. The Bills young quarterback is facing much more pressure to perform than he did starting his rookie season and opening on the road makes things even tougher. If CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson can find some holes behind the Bills massive offensive line they could make Manuel’s day a whole lot easier.

Sammy Watkins should play, but I wouldn’t expect too much from the high draft pick nursing a painful rib injury. The bulk of the Bills receptions will come from Williams and Woods, but don’t forget Marquise Goodwin. The second year speedster didn’t play much in the preseason due to injury, but I would expect the Bills to send him long in key moments.

Doug Marrone has decided to make Spiller his primary kick-off return man which is surprising to say the least. Spiller’s quickness and breakaway speed definitely makes his a threat every time he touches the ball, but it’s rare in this day and age to have your starting running back as your return man. The good news is that with the kick-offs usually going through the end-zone Spiller shouldn’t be involved in many returns.

Defensively the Bills have a real challenge facing quarterback Jay Cutler. Primarily, because of Cutler, the Bears passing offense has been in the top five in the NFL. Cutler has the ability to test the Bills secondary often and the Bills will need to maintain pressure to prevent Cutler from getting in a rhythm.

Running back Matt Forte also adds a ground threat in the Bears offense. Last season Forte rushed for over 1300 yards and has the ability to run over as well as around people. We will see in a hurry if the Bills defense under Coach Jim Schwartz and new linebacker Brandon Spikes have improved the run-defense.

Reading what the Chicago media have written about this match-up one gets the sense that they expect an improved Bills team, but all-in-all they are glad to start the season at home against the Bills. That’s not a surprise considering the Bills record the past decade, but the Bears know the Bills bring some weapons to the windy city. Quarterback Jay Cutler has already warned the Bears fans of the Bills front four and their ability to rush the passer saying “we’ll have our hands full”.

I am an eternal optimist and I’ll take the Buffalo Bills over the Chicago Bears in week one, 28-24.

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