The Monsters of the Midway Return Home
The division-leading Chicago Bears (2-1) host the division-leading Buccaneers (2-1) this Sunday afternoon. This matchup resembles a heavyweight title fight. The Bucs bring the top overall rated offense in the NFL to face off against the Bears fifth overall ranked defense. DaBears are currently a three-point favorite according to sportsline.com.
Tampa throttled Chicago last season 29-7 when former HC John Fox and NFL retread QB Mike Glennon were at the helm. The Bears made a complete overhaul of the offense since last season with new HC Matt Nagy and his brand of the West Coast offense.
The Bucs have been riding the magic of journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick due to a three-game suspension of former #1 overall pick Jameis Winston. This is Winston’s first eligible game to return but TB has yet to announce this week’s starter to gain an advantage over this defensive unit.
“Man, that’s the whole point in playing in the NFL, you have to be prepared,” “You get paid to go out and no matter who it is, you’ve got to be prepared. That’s going to be a challenge.” – Mack via the Chicago Sun Times
Tampa has proven to be fairly one dimensional this season owning the first overall ranked passing offense (410/YPG) but only the 30th ranked rushing offense (72.7/YPG). This game should prove to be the toughest test of the season.
But Chicago only allows 223.67/YPG through the air. The Bears lead the league in sacks (14) led by OLB Khalil Mack (4), MLB Danny Trevathan (2), and DE Akiem Hicks (2). Six other players have contributed to the sack total. This squad also adds five interceptions, two returned for touchdowns and 11 passes defensed (PD).
CB Prince Amukamara leads the way with three PD and a pick-six of his own. He and backup CB Marcus Cooper Sr. are currently listed on the Injured List as Did Not Participate. Their absence would leave Undrafted Free Agent Kevin Toliver on the outside; either opposing quarterback could take advantage of that matchup Sunday.
Keys to the Game
The Bears offense manages only 21 Points Per Game (PPG) ranking 21st in the league compared to TB’s third-ranked scoring offense at 34 PPG. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has yet to click within Nagy’s offensive scheme. He is only averaging 197 YPG, 591 total passing yards with only four plays of 20 or more yards. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick leads the league in yards (1,230), 410 YPG, and 18 plays of 20 or more yards.
Trubisky needs to be consistent in one area of the game to lead his team to victory, Time of Possession (ToP). The Bears are second in the league at 34:42 minutes/game according to teamrankings.com. Nagy needs to scheme around the opposing offense this week with a rhythmic passing game plan to go along with a power running game.
The Bucs entire defensive unit only offers seven sacks, one interception, and 10 PD to date while ranking 31st against the pass and 31st overall YPG.
Just move the ball and let the Monsters of the Midway continue to give this team a chance.
Rookie Roquan Smith said it best, “We’re just playing Chicago-style defense.” according to chicagobears.com.
Bears win 24-21 but include four sacks and two picks that prove the distance.
Until then, stay thirsty. JT out!