The Buffalo Bills are at the other end of the spectrum, remaining the NFL's lone winless team despite playing competitive football.
Chicago (4-3) was one of the biggest surprises in the league when it opened the season 3-0, but three losses in four games sent the team stumbling into last week's bye and put quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz under scrutiny.
The Bears turned the ball over a season-worst six times in a 17-14 loss to Washington on Oct. 24, with Cutler throwing four interceptions. Cutler also got sacked four times, giving him 19 in his past three games and bringing his league-leading total to 27.
"There are so many things that all of us would like to do differently," coach Lovie Smith said.
Trying to get the running game going appears to be one of the top things Smith and the Bears want to change.
Under Martz, Chicago's offense has been unbalanced with 215 passes attempted to 156 rushes. The Bears, tied for 26th in rushing at 88.6 yards per game, have only run the ball more than 19 times in a game twice.
"It's pretty obvious that we need to establish the run a little more to help out the passing game and then cut down on turnovers and hold onto the ball," said running back Matt Forte, who leads Chicago with 352 rushing yards and is second with 303 receiving.
The Bears, a half game behind NFC North-leading Green Bay, appear to have a decent chance of moving the ball on the ground against Buffalo, which is off to its worst start since the 1984 team opened 0-11.
The Bills (0-7) are last in the NFL against the run at 188.7 yards, and have allowed four of their last five opponents to reach the 200-yard mark -- including a season-worst 274 in last Sunday's 13-10 overtime loss to AFC West-leading Kansas City.
Despite another disappointing showing from the run defense, Buffalo allowed a season low in points after giving up at least 34 in each of its previous five games. It still wasn't enough, however, as the Bills became the 12th NFL team to lose in OT on consecutive weekends following a 37-34 defeat to AFC North-leading Baltimore on Oct. 24.
"It's horrible to think we're the only winless team in the NFL. No one wants to be able to say that you're part of that. But that's the reality," linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "But each week, man, we're getting a step closer. You can't get any closer than where we're at."
Merriman is tentatively set to report to the Bills on Friday, and he has already been ruled out from playing against Chicago.
"We need to get over the hump, get one win, and then we think things will start rolling and bouncing in our direction," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick has done a solid job of guiding Buffalo's offense, ranking second in the league with 12 TD passes since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week 3, but he could have trouble moving the ball against a sound Chicago defense.
"Our defense is doing what it's supposed to do," defensive end Israel Idonije said
Chicago's defense led the way in the last meeting between these teams, forcing five turnovers and limiting the Bills to 145 yards in a 40-7 home win in 2006.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press