OPEN­ING SHOT

Steve Rosen­bloom

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - Steve Rosen­bloom srosen­bloom@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @steverosen­bloom

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The Choice (and re­mem­ber, death is not an op­tion): Cody Parkey kick­ing for a post­sea­son berth or Leonard Floyd fill­ing the pass- rush void? More,

When Bears de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Vic Fan­gio de­scribed the Bills’ Nathan Peter­man as “ca­pa­ble,’’ he had to be talk­ing about bus­ing ta­bles or ask­ing if you want cheese on that.

Fan­gio couldn’t pos­si­bly have been talk­ing about quar­ter­back­ing this week’s op­po­nent, and if he was, no­body was buy­ing it.

Get a load of this: In the two games this sea­son in which he has thrown more than two passes, Peter­man is a com­bined 11 for 30 for 85 yards with one touch­down and four in­ter­cep­tions. His quar­ter­back rat­ing is barely old enough to drive at 16.7.

No doubt, in­jured Khalil Mack wants to play against this guy more than ever. No doubt, the Bears shouldn’t let him. The Bears screwed this up ear­lier when they let him re­turn against the Dolphins in the game he orig­i­nally in­jured his right an­kle. They screwed up again the next week against the Patriots, and they know it.

“In hind­sight, should we have taken him out ear­lier? Prob­a­bly,’’ Fan­gio said. “But a guy says he can go, he can go, and we have to see it.”

Here’s what we have seen since: If the Bears can sit on the Jets of­fense with­out the out­side linebacker who wrecked the NFL in Septem­ber, then they can sit on the Bills, who are even worse.

The Bills are last in the NFL in pass­ing yards and points per game. They are one of only two teams av­er­ag­ing fewer than 250 yards per game, are sec­ond-worst in third-down con­ver­sions and tied for fourth in worst turnover dif­fer­en­tial. The Bills can’t hold on to the ball and can’t do much with it when they do.

If the Bears need Mack to beat this team, then some­one needs to be cut or fired or both.

The Bills are the kind of op­po­nent good teams beat even when not at full strength. Don’t play stupid. Let the Bills do that. Make the Bills do that. Just win, get out, and get Mack’s in­jured right an­kle healthy be­cause the im­por­tant stuff comes next and just doesn’t stop.

I mean, just look:

The Lions come to Soldier Field a week from Sun­day. The Sun­day af­ter that, the Vikings show up. Then comes a short week to play the Lions again on Thanks­giv­ing.

Af­ter a sec­ond off week against the Gi­ants, the Bears play host to the Rams, a team they want to be when they grow up, and then come the Packers, the vex­ing ri­val against whom Matt Nagy’s Bears choked a 20-0 lead in the opener.

So, of the six games af­ter this week, the Bears play four in the di­vi­sion that they now lead and play a fifth against the only 8-0 team in the NFL.

See what I’m talk­ing about? This is not just a mat­ter of rest­ing Mack for a sec­ond game. This is about the next month to two months of the reg­u­lar sea­son. This is about the play­offs in Jan­uary.

The Bears will need the guy who recorded five sacks, forced four fum­bles and re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion for a TD in the first four games.

Pro­tect your best de­fen­sive player, their most dom­i­nant since Brian Ur­lacher. Pro­tect your­self from ca­pit­u­lat­ing to some­thing stupid.

Don’t tempt Mack. Don’t tempt your­self. Not only should the plan have been not to play Mack, but not even let him on the plane.

CHRIS SWEDA/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

There’s no rea­son the Bears can’t beat this ver­sion of the Bills with­out Khalil Mack.

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