Chicago Bears (2-6 SU, 2-6 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS)
NFL Football Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, October 13, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI pk/TB pk
Over/Under Total: 45
The Chicago Bears come to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in week ten action. The Bucs lost to the Falcons last Thursday, 43-28 in a game where they were dominated. They have lost two games in a row, which followed a 2-game win streak. They have fallen to 3-5 and could use a positive development to salvage their 2016 season. To do it, they will need to beat a Chicago team that seemed to hit a groove just before going into the bye last week. In week 8, they beat the Vikings, 20-10. While just 2-6, they looked so good in that game, one wonders what Chicago team we will see in the second half of the season.
Tampa has been all over the place this season. They beat the Falcons to open the season, before getting crushed in their last game by that same Falcons team. After the week one win, they lost three in a row, before winning consecutive games. But the Atlanta loss was their second in a row and they really need a win this week at home against the 2-6 Bears. Against the Falcons, things looked good with a 7-0 Tampa lead. They retook the lead 14-13 in the second quarter, before Atlanta hung 27 points on the Bucs to take a 40-14 advantage. Tampa added a few late scores to make it look more respectable, but make no mistake, they were taken behind the shed by the Falcons. Bizarrely, the Bucs have yet to win at home this season.
The Tampa defense had no answers against Atlanta, giving up a huge day through the air to Matt Ryan, while also getting exploited on the ground by the Falcons. A few weeks ago, we saw the talent on this side of the ball starting to materialize, but with 73 points allowed in their last two games, they’ve taken a backwards step. They had seemingly turned the corner and were making big plays and really contributing to the overall team cause. They could potentially thrive against a lukewarm Chicago offense, but they’ve struggled against the better offenses they’ve faced this season. Perhaps the long week afforded them the chance to get the “D” back in-gear.
Different factors have prevented the Buccaneers offense from getting the most out of what it has. Injuries have played a role, as they never seem to be at full-strength. At their best, Jameis Winston commandeers a vast arsenal of playmakers. But without key pieces, they can flounder. And being without Doug Martin has taken away the teeth of this offense. Against Atlanta, Winston got banged up, with top receiver Mike Evans suffering a concussion. Both are listed as probable, but it’s just more dings to an offense that has absorbed more than their fair share. Maybe Martin (probable) can start finding his way back into the fold here soon.
Chicago’s play against Minnesota in week eight was a big surprise, though the Vikes have certainly started to lose their way in the midst of a big old fall from grace. The offense did enough to keep the Bears in firm control throughout the game, as Jay Cutler returned the offense for the first time in weeks since suffering an injury. He threw for 252 yards and a touchdown. Beyond his on-the-field play was his overall attitude. Earlier in the season, we saw Cutler sulking on the sidelines with his Danny Ainge face. Against the Vikes, he was shown on the sidelines palling around with teammates and maybe the win helped him get back in the good graces of the team.
The Bears have struggled in the playmaking category and in developing playmakers other than Alshon Jeffery. Injuries have done damage to both the ground game and aerial attack. Maybe Eddie Royal can get back into the mix. But against Minnesota, they got a huge performance from rookie back Jordan Howard, who ran for 153 yards and a score, while adding 49 yards in the air. He’s been up-and-down since inheriting the starting RB duties, but more of that will have the Bears in a lot of games this season. With Jeffery, Royal, and TE Zack Miller, this is an offense that Cutler can work with. Cameron Meredith showed flashes of being a really good receiver, but has cooled down. If they can get more consistency, this offense could grow over the second-half of the season.
The Bears’ defense looked very energetic against the Vikes, in contrast to how they looked most of the time this season. Even with the offense struggling, however, this side of the ball has shown a certain level of resolve. Having the offense sustain a ground-game has helped. This is a unit with some balance, sometimes stout against the pass and the run. Against Minnesota, the Bears gave up just three points until late in the game. This is a group that can provide a robust effort in the right spots. One thing they’ve struggled in doing is in creating big plays in the form of turnovers or scores. We’ll see how they hold up against a Tampa offense that can be explosive on the right day.
Chicago had a bye week that followed a spotlight win over the Vikings on MNF. At the same time, all teams have good weeks from time to time and the Vikings have been dogmeat lately. They’re still a 2-6 team and there are a lot of reasons for that. They are far from a reliable entity in spots like this. At the same time, they’ve actually been better on the road in the last few seasons than at home for some bizarre reason, with the Bucs facing the same issue, but at home this week. I still see the Bears getting it done and covering the spread this week. I’m taking the Bears.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Chicago Bears in a pick ‘em.
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