After a nerve-wracking victory over the Cardinals last week, the Buccaneers are storming into Solider Field to play the Bears on Sunday afternoon. If the Bears are going to win this game, they are going to have to take the wind out of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s sails. That will all start up front with Khalil Mack and the Rush. They are going to have to set the tone against a high-flying Bucs offense.
Even if the Bears can slow down the Tampa Bay armada, they are going to need to steal a few shillings of their own. This needs to be the game that Mitch Trubisky and the passing offense gets on track. Field goals likely aren’t going to cut it in this one, so red zone is going to have to also be the dance floor for the Bears skill position players. Whatever happens on Sunday, this one looks like it’s going to be fun.
Keys to the Game
Back to Basics: I have been hammering home the words of both Matt Nagy and Trubisky leading up to this game, but it’s on them to actually practice what they are preaching. If this offense can come out and run the staples of this offense effectively and efficiently, we should finally see the potential that this group has. If they revert back to scripting the first drive or two, plus adding in some cutesy stuff, they are likely going to struggle again offensively. If the offense sputters, this game isn’t likely to go well for the Bears faithful.
Connect Four (and sometimes 5): If we learned anything from last week’s Steelers win over the Bucs, it’s that pressure can wreck their high-powered offense. In addition to sacking the quarterback, the Bears front is going to have to consistently put pressure on Fitzpatrick. If they can do that, there will be opportunities to get some turnover, something that the Bears have done well so far. The Bucs have virtually no running game to speak of, so the pass rushers should be teeing-off on that offensive line all day long. Can we have a plank installed at Soldier Field?
The X-Factor: If the Bears can get a lead and control the game defensively, the offensive line is going to have to make their money against a solid front-7 of the Bucs defense. They aren’t having a particularly great season, but the Bears like to control the clock and if they get a lead, expect a heavy dose of Jordan Howard. Even if they find themselves in a situation to run clock, Nagy will have to resist the urge to go under-center and run a power attack. The offensive line and the running backs are at their best in a zone running scheme and out of the shotgun. Don’t get cute, do what works.
What are your keys to the game? The Bears are in for a battle on the high seas...err, well Lake Michigan is pretty big right? If the Bears can stick to the script, they should come away with not only a few chests full of treasure, but also a 3-1 record heading into the bye week.