Two teams which have started the season with a 3-1 record will feature on Thursday Night Football as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears
The Bucs are coming off a 38-31 home win against the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday while the Bears head to this contest after losing to the Indianapolis Colts 19-11 in a game where they were 3.5 point underdogs. Tampa Bay has won two out of the last three meetings between these two teams but the Bears won their most recent one, 48-10, way back on September 30, 2018, when Jameis Winston was still the Bucs’ QB. Of course, the narrative is different this season with six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady playing behind center for Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 7-9 last season and after making significant upgrades during the offseason, they already have three wins in just four games. The Bucs opened their season with a loss to the New Orleans Saints but since then, they’ve picked up three straight wins. In their last outing, the Bucs fell behind 24-7 at home against the Chargers before Tom Brady delivered a big second half to lead Tampa Bay to victory.
Brady finished the game with 369 yards on 30-46 passing with five touchdowns and one interception. Mike Evans had seven catches on 8 targets for a total of 122 yards with one touchdown. Ronald Jones III led the ground game with 111 rushing yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. Tampa Bay outgained the Chargers 484-324 in total yards and 28-15 in first down conversions.
Tampa Bay ranks 9th in scoring at 30.0 points per game and they are also 19th with an average of 378.3 yards of total offense. Brady has completed 65.2% of his passes for 1,122 yards with 11 scores and only four interceptions. They rank 11th in the league in passing but are only 27th in the rushing department. However, the Bucks have the second-best rushing defense in the league at 64.3 rushing yards per game allowed. They are also 9th in scoring defense at 23 points per game allowed.
The Chicago Bears are also 3-1 to start the 2020 NFL Season. The Bears won their first three contests before losing in their last game. Nick Foles got the start the last time out after leading the team to a come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago. But Foles struggled in his first start of the season an the Bears lost 19-11 to the Indianapolis Colts at home.
After his heroic effort against the Falcons, Nick Foles struggled in his first start of the season. Foles completed 26 of 42 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Allen Robinson led all receivers with 101 receiving yards on seven catches with the Bears’ only TD grab of the game. Foles did not get any support from the ground game as the Chicago running game produced only 28 yards in 16 attempts. The Bears were outgained 289 to 269 in total yardage while they also had two fewer first downs at 16 against 18.
The Bears are 25th in scoring at 21.3 points per game and are 21st in the passing department at 249.3 passing yards per contest. Chicago is also 20th in rushing at 110.5 yards per game on the ground. They are 23rd in total offense at 359.8 yards per outing. The Bears’ defense ranks 9th against the pass and 15th against the run. They allow their opponent a total of 345.3 yards per game, 8th best in the NFL. They also rank 7th in scoring defense at 20.3 points per game allowed.
Tampa Bay is 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played. The Buccaneers are 1-1 SU in two road games played this season. Chicago is 4-1 SU in their last five games played. The Bears are 1-1 SU in two home games played this season and 7-1 SU in their last eight games against the NFC. Head to head, the Bears are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played against the Bucs. Chicago is also 13-4 SU in 17 home games against Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have suffered injuries to their key players. Tight end OJ Howard ruptured his Achilles in their last game while receiver Mike Evans played with a sprained right ankle. Tampa Bay is also without running backs Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, and receiver Chris Godwin.
But Tampa Bay heads to this game with plenty of confidence after a big second half last weekend. The Bucs had five consecutive scoring drives to erase a 24-7 deficit. Brady threw for over 250 yards in the second half and had five total touchdowns in the game. Without Howard, Brady’s favorite weapon Rob Gronkowski could have more opportunities.
Despite their 3-1 record, the Bears are having problems with their offense. Nick Foles was named as their new starter after leading the team to a come-from-behind win over the Falcons. But he struggled during their 19-11 loss to the Colts, completing only 26 of 42 passes. Nor did he get help from his team’s running game.
It’s not easy to back the road team on a short week but there’s a big difference between the quality of these two offenses. The Bucs will look to stop the Bears’ running game and force Foles to throw the ball. He hasn’t found much success so far and I don’t think that changes here.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are 2-2 ATS in four games played this season. Tampa Bay is 4-1 ATS in their last five games played and 1-4 ATS in their last five games against the NFC North Division. Chicago is 4-12 ATS in their last 16 games played. The Bears are 0-2 ATS in their last two games played at home, 4-1 ATS in their last five games played against the NFC South Division, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven October games.
The Bears are 3-1 but their wins have come against bad teams and their victories have been by four points each. The Bucs haven’t played much better opposition with the teams they’ve beaten combining for a record of 4-8. However, Tampa Bay has won those games by at least a touchdown. There’s no doubt that Tom Brady is getting comfortable with Bruce Arians’ offense, despite the injuries they are suffering right now. Chicago entered the Colts game averaging four yards per carry and they finished with 28 in that game. Tampa Bay has been great against the run, allowing 2.7 yards per carry. With too much pressure on Nick Foles, I like Brady and the Bucs to cover the spread here.
Prediction: Tampa Bay -4.5
The total has gone over in 15 out of the last 18 games played by the Buccaneers. The over is 12-0 in the last dozen games played by Tampa Bay, and 5-0 in their last five games played in October. The total has gone under in six out of the last seven home games played by the Bears. Chicago has seen the total go under in seven out of their last 10 games as the betting underdogs. Head to head, the total has gone over in three out of the last four games between these two teams.
The Buccaneers have scored an average of 32 points per game in their last three games played. Tampa Bay has also put up 25.2 points per game on the road this season. Three of their four games this season have seen a total of 48 or more points. On the other hand, Chicago’s two home games have been low scoring. But those games were against the Giants and Colts who rank 29th and 18th in passing offense. The Bucs are obviously a much better passing and scoring team than both. Because of that, the Bears will be forced to throw the ball to keep up with them. That should lead to a high-scoring game.
Prediction: Over 43
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