The Bears come into Sunday’s contest feeling rejuvenated with 33 yr old Jay Cutler back under center and the emergence of rookie RB and 5th round pick Jordan Howard running AND catching the football very effectively. He ran buckshot on a very good Vikings run defense and is averaging 5.1 yds a carry. With that uptick in the run game, the Bears are moving the football averaging 355.4 yds pg but not scoring much putting up 16.4 per game, good for 31st in football.
That obviously interprets as a bad third-down team and they are the bottom of the barrel converting only 35% of third down opportunities; so first and second down will be crucial for the Bucs D in disrupting down and distance. The Bucs will need a clean penalty game to help achieve that. But with the Bucs secondary giving up 281 pass yds pg, the Bears will undoubtedly sneak in some throws on running downs with the 6’5 Alshon Jeffrey and TE Zach Miller. Bucs linebackers must be very aware of Howard out of the backfield as well.
Defensively, the Bears are a decent defense statistically but they give up only 3.9 yds per carry, one of the stoutest numbers in the league against the run. The flipside is they still allow 100 rush yds pg, presumably because opponents have been up on the 2-6 Bears and can afford to run the football at 3.9 a carry with a lead. They also just got back an important weapon in LB Pernell McPhee off the PUP List and will be a load for Bucs tackles off the edges.
I think if Doug Martin can get integrated back into this offense on Sunday (10-15 carries) and the defense can contain the thirty-seven +20 yard plays they’ve given up this year to only two at most on Sunday, we have a great opportunity to get our first home victory of the 2016 season. Despite the injuries, we have the better football team and hopefully that shows on Sunday! Go Bucs!