Breaking it down:
Bears O vs Bucs D
Bears QB/WR vs Bucs DBs
Kyle Orton has come under fire about his inability to complete passes down the field. This week the Bucs will be stacking the line in an effort to shut down rookie standout Matt Forte so Orton should be seeing single coverage all day.
If he can take advantage of that, then his numbers should be solid. But I haven’t seen anything to make me believe he will and the Bucs still have Ronde Barber who will be covering Brandon Lloyd, Rashied Davis or Marty Booker, none of which will strike fear into the hearts of Buc defenders. Hester is still questionable with a rib injury.
Bears RB/TEs vs Bucs LBs
Matt Forte has been a pleasant surprise to a position that had question marks entering the season. With good games against both the Colts and the Panthers he has shown explosiveness, good decision making, and the ability to cut back.
Back up Kevin Jones has also shown to be reliable and Jason McKie continues to be an option close to the goal line. However the Bucs LBs are damn good. The trio of Cato June, Barrett Ruud, and Derrick Brooks is about as solid as you can find in the NFC.
Expect them to be focused on the run and covering Des Clark and Greg Olsen, who is trying to rebound after a miserable game last week. However Brooks is a little dinged up with a hamstring injury. That and Olsens debacle last week puts this at a dead heat
Bears OL vs Bucs DL
The two matchups to watch in the trenches is second year end Gaines Adams, who is coming off a strong showing against the Falcons where he had 2 sacks and 6 tackles, and 13-year veteran Kevin Carter vs. Bear tackles, John Tait and John St Clair.
Normally, I would give the advantage to the Bucs because, while Tait has shown the ability to hold his own, St Clair wasn’t a starter until Bears first round pick Chris Williams was injured. However after watching St Clair hold his own against the likes of Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers, I am putting this one even.
Bucs O vs Bears D
Bucs QB/WRs vs Bears DBs
Brian Griese came out and played pretty well last week: 160 yds and a TD pass, but lost a fumble and was a little off on a couple throws. The main concern should be that Joey Galloway the Bucs No. 1 receiver looks like he will not be available this week putting extra pressure on both Ike Hilliard and Antonio Bryant, who did not catch a pass last week.
They will be squaring off vs. Peanut Tillman and Nathan Vasher in front of second year SS Kevin Payne and the healthy Mike Brown. Tillman and Vasher have both played pretty solid and Mike Brown is a pro bowler when healthy. It would be a push if Galloway was healthy, but since he’s not. . .
Bucs RB/TEs vs Bears LBs
Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn are a pretty good duo in the backfield for the Bucs. Both run hard and are very disciplined. TEs Alex Smith and former Bear John Gilmore fit well into the Bucs style of offense and are constant targets in the red zone. FB B.J. Askew opens holes and should be aiming for Bears LBs Hunter Hillenmeyer or Brian Urlacher. Those two, with Lance Briggs have shown the ability to keep the run game in check. However, the way Graham and Dunn have been playing should not be taken lightly.
Bucs OL vs Bears DL
The Bucs O-line has done a pretty good job so far this season. They have only given up 4 sacks while allowing Graham and Dunn to gain a total of 310 rushing yards, all of this without starting RG Davin Joseph. Rookie Jeremy Zuttah has stepped in and provided solid play.
This will be their toughest test so far though. From top to bottom, the Bears D-line is good. With Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye on the ends and Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek inside, throw in pass rushing specialist Mark Anderson waiting in the wings and Zuttah, Jeremy Trueblood and the rest of the Bucs lineman are going to have their hands full.
Bucs Special teams vs Bears special teams
Dexter Jackson has speed and explosiveness that the Bucs have been missing for along time on special teams. He has shown positive things on both punt returns and kick offs.
Devin Hester, if he plays, is the best in the business and if he doesn’t play, Daniel Manning is waiting in the wings to show what he is made of (after a 36 yard return last week) as is rookie Earl Bennett who impressed coaches with his returns in preseason or Nathan Vasher who returned a punt last week 18 yards to set the Bears up at their own 40 to give them a chance at the end of last week.
Robbie Gould and Matt Bryant are both reliable and solid kickers. Gould is a 85.3% career field goal kicker compared to Bryant’s 82%.
Josh Bidwell this season, out of 13 points, has put 6 inside the 20 yard line and has an average of 45.1 with a long of 61. Brad Maynard has 12 punts with 4 inside the 20 and an average of 38.3 and a long of 55.
Bears Coaching vs Bucs Coaching
John Gruden and Monty Kiffin are second to few. . . Lovie Smith is a good coach, but Bob Babich and Ron Turner have had some questionable moments. Easy one here
Overall: Bears win in a close one.