Zach Miller best summed up the Chicago Bears' hard fought 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week.
"I’m proud of the way we stuck in it. There’s no such thing as a moral victory, but we have to bounce back," said Miller of falling six yards short of an upset of the defending NFC champions.
Indeed, Miller's right: the Bears did a lot of good things against the Falcons, particularly defensively. But no one gives you credit when you don't win. No one remembers your game plan when you don't come out on top when the clock strikes zero. Good feelings don't count as much as the standings after all.
Luckily enough, there is ample opportunity to rebound this week against a similarly flawed team in Florida. Coming off of a tough defeat in the closing seconds, Chicago has the opportunity to make their mark on the road in Tampa Bay. To really show what kind of team they'll be in 2017 in Mike Glennon's "revenge" game. Only Sunday's final results will tell the full story, though.
Here's Windy City Gridiron's staff picks for Bears-Buccaneers.
If there was a game for the Bears to flex their roster strengths, it would be against the turnover prone Jameis Winston and a Tampa defense that was 23rd against the run last year. To that end, Winston is going to give Chicago an opportunity at forcing some needed turnovers and for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to have success running the ball overall. But, the Bears still don't have enough firepower offensively to keep up with a team that has the weapons Tampa possesses (Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard) and that will ultimately be their downfall. The Bears defense essentially has to play a perfect game and that's a lot to ask for even an elite unit.
Buccaneers 31-Bears 20
Lester Wiltfong Jr.
If this wasn't the season opener for the Bucs, I'd have gone with the Bears to pull out the win. I see another close game, but Chicago's defense is still a work in progress, and their offense has a ways to go as well.
Buccaneers 21-Bears 17
The Mike Glennon #RevengeGame will be a defensive struggle for the first half with Leonard Floyd and Gerald McCoy exchanging sacks and pressures. The Bucs will lead late into the fourth Quarter on the strength of two Jacquizz Rodgers touchdowns and a Chris Conte interception (#RevengeGame). That's when the "Ginger Giraffe" turns it on for the final drive again, but this time Zach Miller holds onto a pass to go ahead as time expires.
Bears 20-Buccaneers 17
I am hopeful that the Bears come out angry after last week's game and the Bucs are still reeling from their surprise bye and displacement, but I just don't trust the Bears to not have a boneheaded defensive blunder once a game or to generate turnovers -which are both things they need to win. So with Evans, Jackson and Winston, I think it's too much for the Bears for the second consecutive week.
Buccaneers 21-Bears 17
I can see the defense giving the Bears a short field or two, but I'll believe they can put up more than 20 when I see it.
Buccaneers 23-Bears 20
The Bears have the talent on defense to keep this a close game, but I don't see enough offensive firepower to take advantage of that. The Bears' front seven should be a big test for Tampa's offensive line, and Chicago's secondary may be able to do better against the Bucs' dangerous group of offensive weapons than most people think. However, I don't see Glennon lighting it up by any means, and the Bears fall short of getting their first win of the year.
Buccaneers 24-Bears 17
McCoy will feast in his first action of the season, as he drags Glennon down for two sacks. The Bears will get the short passing game established, but it won't be enough to keep the Bucs defense honest when they know that the ball is unlikely to travel more than ten yards in the air at any given time. The Bucs will cheat safeties into the box daring some throws. Glennon will throw his first pick of the season, but Cohen will have another big game.
Tanner Gentry will be the recipient of at least one WR screen pass.
Buccaneers 27-Bears 20
Connor Barth boots in two over 50 while Nick Folk goes one for three. Glennon throws two touchdown against his old teammates, and Winston throws one ... to Eddie Jackson.
Bears 27-Buccaneers 24
The three field goal Barth #RevengeGame doesn't buoy the moribund Bears offense enough. Also in the boat on the Bears scoring 20 - hoping for it, can't guess it.
Buccaneers 21-Bears 16
I see an ugly game coming. Glennon wants to show out, but can he? The Bucs want to focus on football, but can they? This is a terrible situation for the Buccaneers -- getting an unwanted Week 1 bye based on a scheduling fluke would be bad enough, but the reason for the missed game compounds everything. I have no doubt that they'll be able to "focus" during the game. The problem is the impact of preparation time and brain energy throughout the week. The Bears, meanwhile, will be without one of their best defensive players (Jerrell Freeman) and will be shuffling personnel on offense due to injuries and production. Like I said, ugly game, but I'll take the win.
Bears 16-Buccaneers 7
The cards are stacked in the Bears' favor this week. I don't buy the notion that the Bucs having an extra week to prepare gives them an advantage. Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith once said something to the affect of: the greatest leap a team makes throughout the season is Week 1 to Week 2. If we are looking at it through that lens, the Bears have already taken their opening shot to the mouth and the Buccaneers haven't. The Bears appear to be getting Kyle Long and perhaps Prince Amukamara as well as Markus Wheaton back from injury. The rookies will have another week of experience and the coaching staff will have a week's worth of film to self-scout and build a game plan from. The Bears have tasted only defeat so far and are hungry for a victory that barely eluded them. The Bucs on the other hand, are dealing with things closer to home that the Bears simply aren't. Hurricane Irma left the Tampa Bay area in pretty bad shape, likely causing player's families to evacuate, lives to be uprooted and potentially some homes even being destroyed. I feel for everyone who lives in Florida and their families. I have family there and thankfully they survived unscathed. I cannot imagine that football is the most important thing on those player's minds come Sunday, and it shouldn't be.
Bears 27-Buccaneers 17
Bears 21-Buccaneers 17
Click on our names to follow us on Twitter:
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Kev H; Sam Householder; Jacob Infante;Andrew Link; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Robert Zeglinski; Like us on Facebook.