Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (in London)
Noon Sunday, FOX, AM-780 & 105.9 FM
Northwest Herald sports writer Tom Musick breaks down this week’s Bears game:
Bears’ rushing offense vs. Buccaneers’ rushing defense
Matt Forte has been the Bears’ MVP so far this season, and his size and strength gives the Bears the edge against the Buccaneers’ rushing defense. The Bears’ goal-line offense also has improved thanks to the arrival of Marion Barber, who has two touchdowns in his first three games after sitting out Weeks 1 through 3 because of a calf injury.
Bears’ passing offense vs. Buccaneers’ passing defense
Jay Cutler is coming off of the best game of his season, in which he completed 21 of 31 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns for a 115.9 passer rating. The Buccaneers’ passing defense is pretty hot, too. Tampa Bay defenders Tanard Jackson, Quincy Black and E.J. Biggers each picked off New Orleans’ Drew Brees to secure a big win in Week 6.
Buccaneers’ rushing offense vs. Bears’ rushing defense
The Bears’ rushing defense bounced back against Minnesota in Week 6, when they limited Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson to 12 carries for 39 yards. Despite that, they have allowed more yards per carry (5.4) than any team in the NFL. The Bears get the edge anyway because ho-hum veteran Earnest Graham likely will start in place of injured LeGarrette Blount.
Buccaneers’ passing offense vs. Bears’ passing defense
Josh Freeman of the Buccaneers has thrown as many interceptions (6) in six games this season as he did in 16 games in 2010. Largely because of those turnovers, Freeman has an unimpressive 78.2 passer rating. The Bears’ Cover-2 defense is well suited against quarterback such as Freeman who walk the line between confidence and recklessness.
Multiple factors make this a tough game to predict. Inconsistency has been a problem for both teams, who followed up ugly losses in Week 5 with big wins in Week 6. A long trip to London’s Wembley Stadium offers another element of the unknown, although the Buccaneers made the trip in 2009. In a game featuring good defense and sloppy offense, give us the Bears.
Tom Musick’s pick: Bears 17, Buccaneers 13