The Bucs are heading to the Windy City to take on the Bears after suffering their first defeat of the season. Inconsistent play helped the Steelers build an early first half lead that Tampa Bay couldn’t overcome and now they are 2-1.
Things won’t get any easier this week. The Bears field one of the league’s top defenses and they are no joke.
The first team to 20 points will most likely be the winner in what should be a dog fight of a game.
- All-time series record: The Bears lead the all-time series 38-20. Tampa Bay has won the past two meetings: 36-10 in 2016 and 29-7 in 2017. The Bucs are 14-17 at home and 6-21 on the road.
- Longest win streak: Chicago won 12 in a row from 1983-1988.
- Largest victory: Tampa Bay crushed the Bears 41-0 in 2000.
- 2018 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay still owns the league’s best offense (1st pass, 30th run) but they slid to 31st in total defense (31st pass, 3rd run). The Bears are 26th in total offense (28th pass, 12th run) and fifth in total defense (11th pass, 2nd run).
What to watch for
- Khalil Mack vs. the Bucs’ offense: Do I really need to explain? Mack is the best defender in the NFL not named Aaron Donald.
- Tampa Bay’s pass protection: They were exposed against the Steelers. See above regarding concerns in that area.
- Chicago’s offense vs. the Bucs’ defense: The Bears move the ball mainly on the ground, but Mitchell Trubisky is waiting for his first breakout opportunity. The Bucs can stop the Bears’ ground attack, but how will they fare in the secondary?
- Ryan Fitzpatrick: It doesn’t seem likely, but if Fitzpatrick struggles and the Bucs are down on the scoreboard - will Tampa Bay turn to Jameis Winston?
- How will the Bucs respond: The Bucs just suffered their first loss of the season. It will be interesting to see how they respond with a short week on the road.
- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: He will be they key to keeping this offense moving.
- RB Peyton Barber: The Bucs have to find a way to get the running game going.
- T Demar Dotson and T Donovan Smith: They will be responsible for keeping Mack out of the backfield.
- LB Lavonte David: He will need to keep Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen from making plays.
- CB Brent Grimes: Last week’s performance was pretty bad. Grimes needs a big bounce back this week.
- S Jordan Whitehead: Will the Bears be able to expose the rookie?
- QB Mitchell Trubisky: Trubisky may have to shoulder the load for the offense this weekend.
- RB Jordan Howard: Chicago’s bell cow will face a tough test against the Bucs.
- WR Allen Robinson II: He was brought in to be a difference-maker and could have his best game as a Bear on Sunday.
- DE Khalil Mack: If you don’t know about Mack, then you need to educate yourself, quickly.
- DT Akiem Hicks: Mack isn’t the only player on the defensive line that is disruptive.
- S Eddie Jackson: One of the league’s best young safeties, Jackson will have his work cut out for him this weekend.
- Through three games, Tampa Bay leads the league in total yards per game, passing yards per game, yards per play and tied for third in points scored.
- The Buccaneers have scored 102 points through the first three games, a team record for points scored through the first three games.
- Dating back to last season, the Buccaneers have totaled at least 425 yards of offense in each of their past four games, extending their franchise record. They join the L.A. Chargers (11/19/17-12/10/17) as the only two teams to post at least four consecutive games with at least 425 yards of offense since 2015.
- The Buccaneers have totaled at least 390 net passing yards in each of their past three games. They join the Pittsburgh Steelers (11/8/1511/29/15) as the only teams in NFL history to post three consecutive games with at least 390 net passing yards.
- Per NFL Communications and Elias Sports Bureau, Mike Evans (367 yards, three touchdowns) and DeSean Jackson (312 yards, three touchdowns) are the first pair of teammates in NFL history to each record at least 300 receiving yards and three touchdown catches through their team’s first three games of a season.
This is going to be a dog fight. The Bears currently represent the old-style NFL, winning with defense and a rushing attack, while the Bucs represent the new-style NFL. It will be interesting to see how much the game has really changed in terms of how to win.
The odds aren’t in Tampa Bay’s favor in Vegas nor in reality. Going on the road on a short week to play in one of the most hostile environments is a recipe for disaster in the NFL.
How will this Bucs team respond? This game could go either way in the end.