Buccaneers at Bears
What is going on Pro Football Talk Line fam? Happy Friday to you unless it’s not Friday. It’s Friday for me and I am pumped! The Bucs have a shot at beating the Bears and improving their record to 3-1 on the season. Not many analysts predicted that the Buccaneers would be 2-1 at this point before the season – but I did. I predicted then and believe now that the Buccaneers will be 3-1 going into the week 5 bye. You can read my Buccaneers season preview here.
What you need to know
The 2-1 Buccaneers will travel to Chicago to face the 2-1 Bears. The Bucs won the last time they played in 2017 by a score of 29 to 7. Tampa has scored 102 points through the first 3 games which is a team record. Dating back to last season, they have 4 straight games of at least 425 yards of offense, extending a franchise record. According to NFL Communications and Elias Sports Bureau, wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson are the first pair of teammates in NFL history to start a season with with 3 games of at least 300 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, EACH! Tampa has 5,500 yards in each of the past 3 seasons and 325 points scored. Both are team records. This Buccaneers offense has been hot for a while now.
Tampa Offense versus Chicago Defense
Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400+ yards in each game this season. He is the first player in NFL history to post 3 consecutive games with at least 400 yards passing. He has 1221 yards passing with 11 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown. Tampa’s total offense is 1st in the league with 473.3 yards per game, first in passing yards per game with 410, and tied for 3rd in points scored with 34 points per game. Chicago’s total defense is 5th in the league allowing 289 ypg, 11th in passing defense, and 8th in points allowed with 18.3 points per game. Bears superstar outside linebacker Khalil Mack had 4 sacks on the season, good for first in the league (tied.) Monday, we saw the Steelers were able to get pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick and he had his worst game of the season by far. At one point in the first half, three consecutive Bucs drives were ended by Fitz throwing picks. You can bet the Bears and Mack will try to attack in this same way. They will try to pressure Fitz and cause him to make bad decisions. If the Buccaneers offensive line can give Fitzpatrick a clean pocket he can pick them apart. Bucs receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin have 3 touchdowns each this season.
The Bucs run game has been ineffective so far. I suspect we will see rookie running back Ronald Jones Jr active on gameday soon. Tampa rush offense is 30th in the league with just 72.7 ypg. The offensive line has given up 5 sacks good for 7th best. Chicago’s rush D is 2nd best only allowing 65.3 ypg.
Bears Offense versus Buccaneers Defense
The Bears offense has been awful so far. The total offense is 26th out of 32 teams gaining 293.7 ypg. The rush offense is middling with 115.7 ypg (good for 12th best) while the passing offense 28th with 197 ypg. The Bucs D has been equally bad or worse you could argue – 31st in total d, tied for 31st in passing d, and 29th in points allowed with 30.3 ppg; however, I think you would be wrong to take that stance. Tampa’s d has faced 3 excellent offensive teams in the Saints, Eagles, and the Steelers. This defensive krewe is getting healthier every week. Rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea is expected to suit up for the first time this week after getting in a full practice Friday. Free agent signee Jason Pierre-Paul is starting to make his presence felt. He has 3 sacks through 3 games and recorded 2 of them last week against the Steelers. He leads the team in that department.
Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s defenses have been great in one important statistical category over the past two seasons – creating turnovers. During his two seasons leading this defense, the team has recorded 55 takeaways, good for 4th best in the NFL during that span.
What I expect
If the Buccaneers offensive line can protect Ryan Fitzpatrick better than it did Monday against the Steelers the Buccaneers will win this game. I believe they will do just that and I do not think the Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky will score enough to keep the Bears competitive. Look for the Bucs to enter the bye week with a record of 3-1.
What do you think? Hit me up in the comments section below or on twitter @stillnfac. I look forward to it. Thank you.