The red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers head for the Windy City this week as the Buccaneers bring their high powered offense to Chicago in their second road game of the season to take on the Bears.
This is a much improved Bears team from last season as they have improved in all phases of the game.
QB Mitch Trubisky is in his second season and he is already benefitting from working with new HC Matt Nagy. The former KC Chiefs OC was hired in the off-season to lead the Bears for the next four seasons, Nagy has been given a lot of the credit for the development of Chiefs QB Alex Smith who is now the starting QB in Washington.
The Bears offense ranks 26th averaging 294 yards a game. The Bears running game led by the platoon of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have averaged 115 YPG and that is good for 12th in the league.
The Bears are still struggling to get the passing game cranked up as Mitch Trubisky and company are averaging just 171 YPG. That is 28th in the league.
The Bears will also be without their third leading receiver in Anthony Miller as he is out with a shoulder injury. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel are now the top receivers for the Bears.
Despite the dismal performance by the Bucs in the first half against Pittsburgh, The Bucs still have the best offense in the league averaging 473 YPG. Most if this is through the air as Fitzpatrick is the first QB in league history to have over 400 yards passing in 3 consecutive games.
All signs are pointing to Fitzpatrick getting the nod to start the game in Chicago. Jameis Winston returned to the team this week, but in a short week, would not make sense to give the start to Winston, as Fitzpatrick has a good cammand of the offense and has developed a great chemistry with the receivers.
The Bears defense is giving up 289 YPG that is good for 5th in the league. The Bears pass defense is 9th giving up 223 YPG, while the run defense is 2nd in the league giving up just 65 YPG.
As the Bucs have struggled to get the running game going, It looks like it may be another huge passing day for Fitzpatrick as I can’t see Payton Barber and company running all over this defense. No word on if Ronald Jones will be inactive tomorrow, but it would‘nt surprise me if that was the case.
It’s begging to look like the Bucs overreached and took Jones way too high although Saquon Barkley, Sony Michael, and Rashard Penny have all struggled somewhat so far this season.
The Bucs place a premium on being versatile and being able to contribute in more than one area to get on the playing field on Sundays. Jones is struggling running the ball, his blocking is not where it needs to be and he is not a contributor on special teams. So the Bucs have no choice but to sit him on Sundays and try to get him up to speed during the week.
Newly acquired Bears LB Khalil Mack is the wild card in this game. Stop Mack or slow him down and you have a good chance of winning the game. Let him wreck havoc on the offense and be a disruptive force, and the Bucs will loose the game.
The Bucs should have a spy on him every play. Someone has to have that responsibility to find where Mack is lined up defensively and then that man’s responsibility is to do nothing but shadow Mack.
You cannot let Mack just line up and play his game. That will be a receipe for disaster. I’m sure the Bucs have a plan. Let’s hope it’s the right one.
This should be an entertaining game, We could get get our first look at Vita Vea in his first NFL action. The Bucs did have two more DB‘s show on the injury report. Carlton Davis has a groin issue, and Jordan Whitehead has a hamstring problem.
The Bucs could be real thin in defensive backfield, if Davis or Whitehead can’t go. DT Beau Allen is also out for this game.
I think the Fitzpatrick magic continues in Chicago this weekend, as the Bucs will score enough points to win the game 35-31.