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Week 7 Preview: Bears at Buccaneers — October 24, 2021

Chicago Bears

Beating Tom Brady once is hard enough. But the Bears did it last year, and I’ll never forget those precious moments.

Whether it was Khalil Mack hip-tossing a Buccaneers lineman like it was a 1996 WCW Monday Nitro match. Or Jimmy Graham one-hand snagging a touchdown to give the Bears a halftime lead. Heck, even a properly run wheel route made an appearance. That game had everything!

And because of all that, Brady is going to come in motivated, as if someone just reminded him he was a sixth-round nobody who had to unseat Drew Henson multiple times before getting a fair shot at Michigan.

Unfortunately, Brady is an obsessive competitor who you know has a been brewing his revenge in the year+ that has passed since falling to the hand of Nick Foles yet again. That Foles is QB3 and won’t likely be active is irrelevant. You can bet on Brady to channel his inner Michael Jordan and create motivational factors out of thin air. Tack on Michigan-Ohio State factor that is now in play with Justin Fields starting opposite of Brady, and you can see where it might get ugly.

But we are still here, patiently awaiting another Sunday of Bears football because there is a non-zero chance Chicago’s team can win this week. No, seriously. Any given Sunday … ya know?

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (3-3) as 13-point underdogs against the Buccaneers (5-1). Over/under: 47. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Chicago Bears lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-20 in the all-time series between two teams that once played twice a year annually. Remember when the Bears and Bucs were in the NFC Central? If ya know, ya know.

In their most recent meeting, the Bears won when an older gentleman forgot how counting works:

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.

Broadcast Info: Sunday, October 24 at 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS-TV (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote)

Officials: Alex Kemp (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (3-3, 1-1 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
98 (16.3 PPG, 30th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST:
124 (20.7 PPG, 8th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Justin Fields
•   RB Khalil Herbert
•   WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Elijah Wilkinson

Unavailable: OL Teven Jenkins, RB/PR Tarik Cohen, RB David Montgomery, Damien Williams (COVID), TE Jimmy Graham (COVID)

Defense
•   DT Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Mario Edwards Jr.
•   OLBs Khalil Mack, Trevis Gipson
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
•   FS Eddie Jackson
•   SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Unavailable: S Deon Bush, S Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Possibly Unavailable: OLB Robert Quinn (COVID)

Specialists
•   Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Jakeem Grant Sr. (punt returns), Jakeem Grant Sr. (kick returns)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-1, 1-0 NFC South)
POINTS FOR:
 195 (32.5 PPG, 3rd of 32)
POINTS AGAINST:
144 (24.0 PPG, 17th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Tom Brady
•   RB Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette Jr.
•   WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin,
•   TE O.J. Howard
•   LT Donovan Smith, LG Ali Marpet, C Ryan Jensen, RG Alex Cappa, RT Tristan Wirfs

Defense
•   DLs Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, NT Vita Vea
•   OLBs Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaquil Barrett; ILBs Devin White, K.J. Britt
•   CBs Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean
•   S Antoine Winfield Jr.,  Jordan Whitehead

Specialists
•   Ryan Succop (kicker), Bradley Pinion (punter, holder), Carson Tinker (long snapper), Jaydon Mickens (kick and punt returns)

Three Bears

Patrick nailed the Three Bears segment last week, name-checking Justin Fields, Khalil Mack, and Khalil Herbert. Welp … here goes nothing!

Darnell Mooney has the power to be the vertical threat Chicago needs to pack a punch offensively. But for that to happen, offensive play-caller Bill Lazor will need to dig deep into Matt Nagy’s assortment of plays to pull out some of those deep route concepts. Thankfully, the afternoon kick out in Florida gives Lazor more time to dig those out than he would’ve had for a traditional noon CT kickoff.

The Buccaneers’ secondary has allowed big games to all sorts of different receivers. Desean Jackson went for 3 catches, 120 yards, and a touchdown. CeeDee Lamb put up a 7-104-1 line on opening night, doing so while Amari Cooper went for 13-139-2. Cooper Kupp scored twice in a game in which he put up 9 catches and 96 receiving yards.

So … why can’t Mooney have a breakout game of his own?

Roquan Smith is stuffing the stat sheet again. If Smith keeps playing at this pace, the back of his trading card will look like this: 5 sacks, 175 tackles, 5 tackles-for-loss, 5 quarterback hits, 3 interceptions.

I’m glad trading cards are trending again, if only so I can use that line again. But also, if you have a Roquan Smith trading card and he keeps setting new single-season personal bests in tackles, then it might be worth big money some day. In an ideal world, you cash in on that market before it crashes (again).

Jaylon Johnson has had better weeks. On Tuesday, Johnson was fined $2,745 for tardiness. A day later, Johnson found himself sharing his saltiness as he put the letter announcing the fine on Instagram.

How’d that embarrassing moment end up going viral?

Who among us hasn’t accidentally sent a message to everyone when you meant to share it only with those you deem as your “Close Friends” on IG?

The only thing tougher than having to explain why team business was put on blast via social media might be facing TB’s healthy receivers. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are waiting for the Bears’ secondary to land in Florida. With Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski unavailable, it should mean more targets for Evans and Godwin. Odds are Johnson will be assigned to follow one (if not both) throughout the day. Good luck!



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.