CHICAGO (WIVB) — The Bills wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 24-21 win against the Bears in Chicago. Sean McDermott decided to play the starters in the final preseason game and things went much smoother than they did in Pittsburgh. Here are my 4 Observations.

Starters bounce back

Josh Allen and the starting offense played the first series of the game. They needed to bounce back after last week’s game in Pittsburgh and they did. It was a good mix of run and pass on the 12-play, 72-yard touchdown drive. No penalties, 3-for-3 on third downs, Diggs and Davis were involved, Allen was Allen … The opening drive went about as well as they could have hoped. Allen was removed after the opening possession. He went 5/7 for 49 yards with a great throw, across his body, to Gabe Davis for a first down. It was a throw that only two or three other NFL quarterbacks can make.

Better showing for Kyle Allen

When Josh Allen left the game, Kyle Allen took over. Matt Barkley is dealing with an elbow injury so it was Kyle’s offense the rest of the way. He has struggled most of the preseason but looked a little more comfortable against the Bears. Kyle Allen’s best throw of the preseason was a 29-yard touchdown strike to Quintin Morris. He hit the tight end in stride, just over a leaping Bears defender. He also moved the offense into field goal range just before the half. There were plenty of mistakes as well: in the first half, he underthrew his target and was intercepted. He also fumbled on a pass play when backup tackle Alec Anderson was beaten on the edge by a rusher. Overall, I think Kyle Allen was better against the Bears and this could be something he can build on. 

Running game shines

I liked what I saw from the Bills running back group. James Cook was involved in the first couple of drives. He had seven touches for 37 yards and did a nice job in pass protection. There was one play in particular where Cook stepped up and took on a blitzer to give Kyle Allen enough time to get the pass off. Damien Harris has been dealing with injuries but made his preseason debut. He had seven carries for 25 yards and scored the opening touchdown of the game on two tough yards. I really like the way Harris runs and believe he has a different skill set to offer this offense. Latavious Murray didn’t play, and it’s not believed to be injury related. It may be a situation where they wanted to see what the other guys could do and know what Murray is capable of. Darrynton Evan smashed through the Bears defense for a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Position battles coming into focus

The Bills had three starting jobs up for grabs going into the preseason: right guard, backup cornerback and middle linebacker. RG O’Cyrus Torrance started for a third straight preseason game. Nothing is official but I would be shocked if Ryan Bates is the starter in week one. Christian Benford started at cornerback, Dane Jackson came in for Tre’Davious White to start the third series, and Kaiir Elam was on the field late in the game. Benford looked good and continues to make a late push for the starting job. It seems like a two-person race right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rotation to start the season. Tyrel Dodson started at middle linebacker and saw a lot of playing time, while AJ Klein came in the game for Matt Milano at outside linebacker. Terrell Bernard continues to deal with an injury so right now my money would be on Dodson as the starter in week one. That could change quickly if Bernard is healthy and practices next week. 

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Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.