With the second half of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season officially underway, the Bucs turn their attention to the Chicago Bears to end their two game skid.
With pressure mounting to turn their season around, the Buccaneers (3-5) welcome to town the Chicago Bears (2-6) for the second time in as many years to get back into the W column. The Chicago Bears are riding high after a big win against the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, and have had an extra week to prepare for the Buccaneers this week.
On Sunday, the Buccaneers will hit the field against the Chicago Bears for the 57th time, with the Bears holding a commanding 38-18 lead in the series. Recently hasn’t been any different, as those numbers include the Bears winning five of the last six meetings. Last season, the Bears forced the Bucs into three turnovers and went back to Chicago with a 26-21 victory.
Buccaneers Offense Vs Bears Defense
Don’t let the 2-6 record fool you, the Bears defense ranks in the top half of the league in terms of points per game, rushing yards per game, passing yards per game, and total yards allowed per game. The possible return of Doug Martin to the starting lineup this week should be a huge boost for Jameis Winston and the offense as a whole. Martin, even if on a snap count, could be a huge boost for a ground game that is literally limping along right now with injuries to Martin, Chris Simms, Jacquizz Rodgers and Mike James.
Jameis Winston and the passing game have seemingly found a groove lately, although they have been playing from behind the last two weeks. Winston has thrown for five touchdowns over the last two weeks with no interceptions. The offensive line will be without two starters this Sunday as Joe Hawley (knee) and Kevin Pamphile (concussion) are both listed as out . Also worth noting is Winston is dealing with a knee injury that he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Thursday night matchup against the Falcons. He was relieved in that game by Mike Glennon, but mainly because the game was already out of hand, and all signs point to Winston being a full-go come Sunday.
Buccaneers Defense Vs Bears Offense
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the Buccaneers defense. Over the past two games, they have given up a total of 1,087 net yards to their opponents; 823 through the air and 264 on the ground. Those two weeks resulted in giving up a total of 73 points and two losses. Although the Bears offense isn’t up to par with that of the Raiders and Falcons, the Buccaneers defense finding a way to shake off the last two weeks will be vital in helping them pick up their first victory at home this season.
It all starts with the secondary. Giving up 823 yards over the last two weeks is no small number. With Jay Cutler back at the helm for the Bears, shutting down wide receiver Alshon Jeffery should be the primary focus of the secondary. Although Cutler has had his fair share of critics, one thing is certain, Cutler and Jeffery have developed chemistry in their four plus years of working together. Having Brent Grimes shadow Jeffery may be the best plan of attack, as he has been the most consistent member of the secondary this season.
The Buccaneers defense cannot take a blind eye to the ground game, however. With the departure of long-time running back Matt Forte this past offseason, the Bears were ready to move forward with second year man Jeremy Langford. Injuries have seemingly derailed Langford’s chances of a starting gig with the Bears, as rookie Jordan Howard has stepped in, and been a pleasant surprise for the Bears offense this season.
Howard is coming off an impressive showing that saw him gain 202 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against a stout Vikings defense. Don’t keep tabs on Howard and he has already proven as a rookie that he can make you pay. Hopefully the return of CLinton McDonald to the defensive line will help prevent that from happening.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Chicago Bears Sunday at 1 PM from Raymond James Stadium. Unable to make it or watch on TV? Follow @thescrumsports on Twitter to follow all the action on the field.
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