Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Chicago Bears Preview and Predictions


Nov 16, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. The Buccaneers won 27 – 7. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I refused to pick the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the Washington Redskins, and even went as far to say that I would not pick them in any matchup until they proved that they could win a football game the right way.

Boy, did they prove it last week.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers outplayed the Washington Redskins in every phase of the game. The offense looked explosive. The defense was stout. Josh McCown played a mistake-free football game, and Mike Evans displayed to the entire league that he could very well be on of the best offensive weapons that this game has to offer.

It was an exciting game for a team and a town that needed to see excitement. The Bucs will look to carry that momentum with them into Chicago as they take on the 4-6 Bears.

There are two big storylines for the Buccaneers in this one: Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago (where he coached for nine seasons), and Tampa Bay’s attempt to stay in the NFC South division race. Despite their 2-8 record, the Bucs are only two games behind the division-leading Atlanta Falcons.

With a newfound fire, and two big motivating factors, the Bucs will look to duplicate their performance from last week and get a win. But just how tough will it be?

The Chicago Bears have all of the offensive talent in the world, but they have two fatal flaws: Quarterback Jay Cutler is prone to turning the ball over, and their defense is barely respectable. Their key players are running back Matt Forte, and their two Pro Bowl wideouts, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both are probable on the injury report, and are likely to be at full speed.

Tampa Bay’s defense could be without one of its leaders, as Lavonte David is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, that means the Buccaneers will be without their leading tackler, and the Bears would try and find way to attack the linebacking core. Cornerback Alterraun Verner, who did not play in last week’s win, is listed as questionable and could give it a go today.

Look out for Jacquies Smith to be the X-factor today. He’s been the Buccaneers best defensive end by far this season, and he showed up in a big way last week. If he can get Jay Cutler rattled, it could be a game changer.

On offense, running backs Charles Sims and Doug Martin are listed as questionable. Martin hasn’t played recently, and Sims has looked good, but hasn’t produced any spectacular statistics. Through two games, Sims is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry. That’s the same average that Martin has had for much of the year, so no matter who goes for Tampa Bay at running back, we’ll likely see the same results.


Can you tell our readers a little something about yourself?

My name is Michael Praser and I have been a staff writer for Bear Goggles On for over a year now. I have been a die-hard Bears fan ever since I went to my first game over 10 years ago and I have never looked back. I’m also a Cubs fan since birth, so I know a little something about disappointment year after year.

Do Bears fans wish they still had Lovie Smith on their team’s sidelines? 

I don’t think Bears fans wish they still had Lovie Smith coaching the Bears, but I am sure Bucs fans do. If there was one thing that I didn’t like about Lovie Smith, it was his inability to scout talent. Whenever he was involved with picking players, we got Shea McClellin, Major Wright or Daniel Manning. I thought Daniel Manning was an excellent return man, but he was only okay as a safety. Major Wright was major wrong, and Shea McClellin is proving to be a bust. Lovie loves the athletic players, the ones who outshine during combine drills, but they don’t usually pan out on the football field.

Is there anyone on the Bears who gets a pass for having an off, or maybe underwhelming, season so far? Please don’t say Jay Cutler, please don’t say Jay Cutler…

Don’t worry, I’m not going to say Jay Cutler. He doesn’t get a pass. The only guy I am giving a pass to is Jared Allen. He battled sickness earlier in the year and if finally starting to look like himself again. Other than that, nobody has any excuses. Everyone is injured and almost the whole offense returned from last year. The funny thing is that Jay Cutler is having a monster year when it comes to his stats. The problem is that he still turns the ball over. Lovie Smith is probably banking on that for Sunday, figuring that Jay will throw a few to the Bucs defense. I expect it myself. Jay Cutler has been careless with the football this year, and last year, and the year before that. He is a gun slinger and he will always throw into double and triple coverage. It is who he is.

Where do the Bears need to improve going forward? 

Cutler needs to stop turning the ball over. Once he does that, I think that the offense will be able to perform at its optimal level. Just keep giving Matt Forte the ball when other teams cover downfield. It works. As for the defense, I don’t know what they can do. They are going to need to decide to do something because what they are currently doing is not working. They brought in Mel Tucker to essentially run Lovie Smith’s defense. That would have worked just fine last year, but the injuries kept piling up and there was no depth on the defensive line. The Bears signed and drafted a whole bunch of defensive lineman to try and fix that area, yet there are gaping holes still at the safety and linebacker position. When Brian Urlacher “retired” the Bears defense started to fall apart. They need to rebuild, and they need to do it fast.

What player on the Bucs’ roster impresses you the most/wish you had on your team? 

I wish we had Josh McCown back on the Bears.  He thrived in Marc Trestman’s west coast offense and I am sure he would have made less mistakes than Jay Cutler has this year. Jay also would have had a proven started sitting behind him which I think would have made him fear for his starting job just a little bit. Yeah right. Jay Cutler just got paid. But I do think that Josh McCown is a great player to have in the locker room.

What do you think about Sunday’s matchup? 

The Bears are going to find a way to lose this game at home on Sunday. Lovie Smith is going to have his guys all sit back in their comfy zones and just wait for Jay Cutler to make a mistake. That bend and don’t break defense is all too familiar here in Chicago. The only thing is ever since Lovie left, we have a bend and break type of defense. Josh McCown will play mistake free football and the Bucs are going to squeeze out a victory so that Lovie Smith can have is revenge. His revenge for sitting at home last year getting paid three millions dollars. I think that Lovie should be sending the Bears a gift basket.

Bucs 17   Bears 14


The last time the Buccaneers won a football game, they came out and played well on the road the following week against the New Orleans Saints. They couldn’t finish off that game and lost in overtime, but hopefully this team has learned from their mistakes.

They played a much cleaner game in Washington last week, and dominated a football game from start to finish for the first time in Lovie Smith’s tenure as head coach. We can only hope that this is a trend that continues moving forward, and you bet your bottom dollar that Smith wants some revenge on the team that fired him after posting a 10-6 record, and just three losing seasons during his tenure in Chicago.

If Lavonte David can’t go, that’s going to hurt the Buccaneers in a big way. He’s one of two men on that defense that guys look to when they need to stabilize things, so losing him would be a huge detriment.

Both teams are capable of big plays, and both are capable of turning the ball over on a moments notice as well. I think it is going to be a close game, but I’m going to pick the home team in this one. Their offensive attack is much more consistent, and weather could end up being a factor on a windy and rainy day in the windy city. If the weather is as bad as some reports say it could be, then the team with the better rushing attack will win. 2.9 yards per carry won’t get the job done this time.

Final Score: Chicago Bears 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19