#275 Chicago Bearsvs.#276 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Written by Chris Kubala
Chicago Bears (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, September 17, 2017, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida, 1 pm ET
Spread: Tampa Bay -7; Over/Under: 43
It’s a pair of old NFC Central rivals rekindling a rivalry down in the soggy Sunshine State. The Chicago Bears leave the Windy City to clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon in week 2 NFL action. Chicago battled but came up on the wrong end of a 23-17 loss to the Falcons at home last Sunday. Tampa Bay was scheduled to face Miami but had their game postponed due to Hurricane Irma: that game will be made up in week 11. The Bears hold a 38-19 advantage in the all-time series but it was the Buccaneers coming up a 36-10 victor in the last meeting, which came here on November 13, 2016.
Chicago gave it all they had but couldn’t quite overcome the defending NFC champions in the opener. The Bears drove to the Falcons’ five yard line in the final 30 seconds and had four shots at the win: three incomplete passes and a sack doomed what was a promising performance. Chicago was outgained 372-301 in the game though they had 20 first downs to the Falcons’ 18: if you throw out an 88 yard TD pass to Austin Hooper on a play where the Bears basically forgot to play coverage, they would have held the Falcons under 300 yards of offense.
Mike Glennon completed 26 of 40 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown in his first start for the Bears after being signed as a free agent. Rookie Tarik Cohen made a major impact in his debut as he ran the ball five times for 66 yards while adding eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Howard added 13 carries for 52 yards plus a touchdown on the ground. Tight end Zach Miller had four grabs for 39 yards while Josh Bellamy (27 yards), Kendall Wright (34 yards) and Howard (14 yards) each had three receptions. Connor Barth hit both extra point attempts and drilled his lone field goal attempt, which came from 54 yards.
Tampa Bay had their season opener postponed thanks to Hurricane Irma so they’re a week behind everyone else. The Buccaneers and Dolphins will each play 16 straight weeks now after the postponement. Tampa Bay has high aspirations for the 2017 season after going 9-7 in 2016. After starting the year 3-5, the Buccaneers went 6-2 in the second half of the season. With the team adding more weapons to an already dangerous offensive attack, could Tampa Bay make the playoffs for the first time since 2007?
Jameis Winston is back for his third season under center: he hit 345 of 567 pass attempts last season for 4,090 yards with 28 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. He added 165 rushing yards plus a score. Ryan Fitzpatrick is his backup should he go down for any period of time. Jacquizz Rodgers led the team with 129 carries for 560 yards and two scores last season: he’ll be the starter early on as Doug Martin (144 carries, 421 yards, 3 TD) serves the final three games of a suspension handed down late last season. The receiving corps has a pair of dynamic big play receivers, one homegrown, the other imported: Mike Evans (96 receptions, 1321 yards, 12 TD) will be flanked by DeSean Jackson (56 receptions, 1005 yards, 4 TD with Washington last season) on the other side this year. Throw in reliable Adam Humphries (55 grabs, 622 yards, two TD), along with tight ends Cameron Brate (57 receptions, 660 yards, 8 TD) and rookie first round pick OJ Howard and there is no shortage of weapons for Winston to utilize. The team moved on from Roberto Aguayo, who struggled to hit 32 of 34 extra point attempts and 22 of 31 field goals last year, in the preseason, so Nick Folk takes over the kicking duties.
The Bears have the edge of having that first game to knock the rust off but the Buccaneers have the health factor going for them. This one is still going to be played in Tampa as the team chose to remain the hosts despite all the rain and wind that Hurricane Irma dumped throughout the state. This is a good chance for Tampa Bay to get off on the right foot and make a statement, not to mention lift the spirits of part of the state. Look for the Buccaneers to get the win in this contest.
While the Bears have the advantage of having played a game that meant something, giving their starters a full complement of reps, it’s already taken a toll. Chicago has lost starting receivers Cameron Meredith and Kevin White along with starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman for the season already. Tampa Bay was prepared to play last week before Hurricane Irma lunched up things for everyone in the state of Florida. The Buccaneers have a ton of offensive weapons and should be poised for a successful 2017 campaign.
The under is 6-1 in the Bears’ last 7 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game. Tampa Bay has seen the under go 4-0-1 in their last 5 games on grass, 4-0 in their last 4 games in Week 2, 5-1-1 in their last 7 games overall and 4-1 in their last five against NFC foes. With Tampa Bay shaking off the rust and the Bears minus their two starting receivers, this one seems destined to stay under the total.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.