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Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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Bears vs. Bucs: Preview, X-Factors, and Predictions

The Bears are 3-2 in their last five matchups against the Buccaneers.

Week five of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the Chicago Bears take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field. In a quarterback rematch of Super Bowl LII, Nick Foles and Tom Brady face off once again in a pivotal NFC matchup.

Photo: Eric Gay/AP

For Brady, he looks his team to build off of Tampa Bay’s week three victory over the LA Chargers. For Foles, he hopes to rebound from a gutting loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. Without further ado, let’s get into the Bears vs. the Buccaneers.

Offensive Matchup

For the Bears, offensive consistency has been the name of the game. Chicago has yet to play a complete game on offense, which has resulted in tightly contested games the past four weeks. With a quarterback change thrown into the mix, the team has yet to find their identity. Matt Nagy is hoping to turn the tides against a Tampa Bay secondary that allows 247.8 yards per game through the air.

For the Buccaneers, Tom Brady and company have seemed to hit their stride. After scoring five touchdowns in a shootout last week against the Chargers, Tampa Bay now touts the ninth-best passing attack in the league. While weapons such as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski have been limited to non-participant status at practice this week, two of three are expected to play at the very least. The Bears’ secondary will have their hands full.

Per Game Stats (Offense)BearsBucs
Points21.2 (25th)30 (8th)
Total Yards343.3 (24th)371.5 (16th)
Passing Yards232.8 (21st)273.8 (9th)
Rushing Yards110.5 (20th)97.8 (27th)

Defensive Matchup

For the Bears, last week’s game against the Colts was a performance that was par for the course. While the offense couldn’t put up points to back them up, the defense went with the ‘bend but don’t break’ strategy. While the team didn’t give up many big plays, they did allow a Philip Rivers-led offense to move the ball. Putting together a more consistent pass rush will be the key against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

For the Buccaneers, their secondary has continued to hurt them. Chargers’ rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had his way with the Tampa Bay defense last week, as he posted 290 yards and three touchdowns. The strength of this unit is its stout run defense and skilled pass rush. The Buccaneers’ front seven is chock full of talented former first- and second-round picks.

Per Game Stats (Defense)BearsBucs
Points20.3 (7th)23 (10th)
Total Yards345.3 (8th)312 (4th)
Passing Yards230.3 (9th)247.8 (19th)
Rushing Yards115 (16th)64.3 (2nd)
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X-Factors

Per usual, I am joined by fellow Bears On Tap contributors Kevin Gora and Aalap Desai to give our X-Factors of the week.

Duke: DE Akiem Hicks

Photo: ChicagoBears/Twitter

“Through four games, Akiem Hicks looks as good as he ever has. At 31, he ranks tenth in the NFL with 11 pressures and sixth in sacks with 3.5. He also has nine QB hits, which is four more than his total from last season. This level of dominance needs to continue against the Bucs. Tom Brady is notoriously good in the pocket but is prone to the inside rush. Lined up against one of the top guards in the league in Ali Marpet, Hicks has a chance to blow this game wide open with a dominant performance. I expect Akiem ‘The Dream’ to answer the bell and put his meat on the table.”

– Duke Coughlin (@ThatPodGuyDuke)

Kevin: QB Nick Foles

Bears Colts Takeaways
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“St. Nick will set the tone early on. The Bears defense has established itself this season already doing their part; now it’s time for Foles to help consistently kickstart this offense. When you look at a Thursday game against the Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you may think the Bears will not stand a chance because their offense is in such disarray. If this team had Trubisky starting, then I would agree with you. However, it has Nick Foles starting at quarterback. Foles thrives with his back against the wall. With the pressure of having to earn approval from the coaches all the way to the fans, Foles will feel that need to succeed. Expect him to be risky and not play “safe” as he did in the week four matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.”

– Kevin Gora (@kevingora21)

Aalap: Offensive Line

 
Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
 Photo: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Mitchell Trubisky isn’t back there anymore. His athleticism and mobility can no longer bail out the Bears’ offensive line. If they want this offense to click, then the protecting Nick Foles is of utmost importance. The Buccaneers defense is now number one in DVOA and their front seven is a legitimate force. Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, William Gholston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White, Lavonte David, and Shaquil Barrett all pose threats to opposing quarterbacks. I wish the Bears offensive line the best of luck on Thursday Night. They’ll need it.”

– Aalap Desai (@ADesai410)

Predictions

Duke: 24-17 Bears (3-1)

“It’s no secret that Matt Nagy and the offense need to show up this week. While Tom Brady is the last player you want to see coming off of a loss, I expect Nick Foles and company to keep him off the field. It doesn’t need to be pretty, but the offense MUST control the football and grind their way into the end zone. I expect the pass rush to keep the Bucs offense in check while Roquan Smith holds it down at the second level. The secondary needs to play aggressively and force Brady into mistakes, which he’s been prone to this season. If the Bears can do this, they stand a real chance at stealing a win at home.”

Kevin: 21-17 Bears (2-2)

“You can say this is me being overly optimistic, but this is me looking at who may actually be on the field come Thursday. The Buccaneers have six potential players that might sit out, all of whom are usually keys to their success. Some of those names include Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette. Brady was able to get away with a win over the Chargers with some starters sidelined in week four, but in week five he will be facing a top-ten defense called the Monsters of the Midway. If Foles can play risky but create drives, this can quickly become a game where the Bucs do not know what hit them. Bear. F*cking. Down.”

Aalap: 33-16 Buccaneers (4-0)

“The Bears are at home on a short week and the Buccaneers injury report looks awful, especially on the offensive side. Normally, this should be a win for the Bears given the circumstances. However, after watching Sunday’s performance, the Bears inspire no confidence in me to deserve a pick this week. Matt Nagy’s play-calling was dreadful and the offensive line play was just as bad. The overall execution was sloppy. The defense is still good and they’ve been playing a ‘bend but don’t break’ style. This week they’ll finally break and we’ll be pointing to the offense’s ineptitude for it yet again. Bruce Arians and Tom Brady will be running circles around Matt Nagy and Nick Foles. I’m willing to eat crow on this one. Prove me wrong, Bears.”


That wraps up the On Tap Sports Net crew’s week five preview. The Bears and Buccaneers kick off the NFL’s week five slate of games at 7:20 PM CT on Thursday, October 8th. The game will still be broadcast on FOX and NFL Network. For further analysis and commentary on all things Bears, be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast.


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Contributor for On Tap Sports Net and Bears On Tap. Lifelong Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox fan who enjoys Irish Whiskey, Podcasts and long walks down Lake Shore Drive. Follow me on Twitter @ThatPodGuyDuke

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