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I know everything seems hopeless ahead of this game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially after losing to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last week.
But there is some good news; they won't give up back-to-back 50 burger losses to Rodgers and Tom Brady like they did the last time the Bears faced each quarterback in consecutive weeks. So at least we have that going for us.
Still, there's not a lot of optimism for this late afternoon tilt on Sunday. Brady will want revenge for last year's senior moment when he forgot how many downs there were at the end of the game and we all know Bruce Arians like to stick it to the Bears whenever possible. It's going to be an uphill battle so here are three things to know going into this game.
1. The Bears can't run on Tampa, but they can pass
Things haven't been great for the Bears offensively this season, but they at least have found an identity that offers them some success. Their focus is on establishing the run to then open up passing opportunities for Justin Fields. This has worked fairly well all things considered as the Bears have totaled 100 rushing yards in their last three games, but that could come to a halt this weekend. The Bucs are stout against the run, allowing just 54.8 yards per game on the ground, best in the league. So the Bears best chance for success for springing an upset will come through the air.
While the Buccaneers can get after both running backs and quarterbacks with their front seven, their secondary is very suspect. Tampa Bay is allowing 281 passing yards and are extremely banged up. Though Antoine Winfield Jr. will be coming back from injury, the Bucs will be missing LB Lavonte David (the team's second leading tackler) and CB Richard Sherman. Fields can have success against this group if he can avoid the rush.
2. COVID-19 is becoming a major factor
You know that whole pandemic that is still very clearly a thing? It's once again rearing its ugly head and coming for the Bears. In the last 10 days, the team has placed four individuals on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Damien Williams and coach Mike Furrey were added last week, now Robert Quinn and Jimmy Graham were added over the last few days.
Williams was cleared to play on Sunday, but we're still waiting on word about Robert Quinn and Jimmy Graham.
The Bears haven't seen this many players down due to COVID since training camp, and that was even before preseason games had started. The team has not had to implement additional protocols, such as separate travel yet, but this could be something that gets worse before it gets better. We'll see if there are any more players or coaches added to that list prior to Sunday's game.
3. Tom Brady's been doing a lot talking ahead of this game
The older Tom Brady gets, the more snarky he seems to get. Sure, more social media platforms just help spread that message, but Brady's been talking a lot this week about his matchup with the Bears. It might just make a few Bears defenders angry.
First, he piled on the "I still own you" comments from Rodgers earlier this week with Jim Gray on SiriusXM.
"Before we get started, I actually wanted to say congrats to Aaron Rodgers," Brady joked. "Obviously, I know that he's a great quarterback but I guess he's now a shareholder of the Bears."
The trash talk didn't end there, though.
Speaking to the Tampa media this week, Brady commented on the fact that he'll face a quarterback from Ohio State for the first time ever when Fields comes to town.
"That's interesting, why is there not a lot of Ohio State quarterbacks in the pros?" Brady asked. "Lot of Michigan guys over here. Not a lot of Ohio State guys."
While that's not a shot at Fields directly, it's just a little extra juice for the rookie. But that defensive line likely isn't happy over the "ownership" talk. We'll see if results in Brady going down a few times.