Friday, November 25, 2005
This Weeks Match Up
This weeks match up is a homecoming of sort. Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium will truly be a blast from the past for the Buccaneers. The Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very familiar with each other. These two teams used to be in the same division, THE NFC CENTRAL, now long forgotten. Some of my greatest memories in football has been these two teams going at it.
The Bears were always a dominate team in the NFL and the Bucs were the laughing stock of the league. The Bears, who beat the Bucs 23 times in a 27-game stretch in the ‘80s and ‘90s, were also one of the first huddles a new Tampa Bay team had to clear when it rose to prominence in 1997.
On Sept 20, 1998 the Bucs beat their first team in Raymond James Stadium it was the Bears. The Bucs put together a six-game winning streak over Chicago from 1997-2000, which caused both teams to switch positions. The Bucs went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII, and the Bears faded off to one of the worst teams in the league.
All that has changed under Head Coach Lovie Smith, a former linebackers coach with the Buccaneers and a Monte Kiffin protégé. The Bears run a system practically identical to the one in which Tampa Bay has excelled for the past decade. The Bucs’ defense is ranked 3rd in the league, while the Bears Defense ranks number one.
According to Coach Gruden, “They’re great, Everybody knows about [Brian] Urlacher. Tommie Harris is a fine defensive tackle. They made a great trade with Miami to pick up a premier pass rusher [Adewale Ogunleye]. Everybody knows about Urlacher; no one talks about [Lance] Briggs. Number 55 is a great linebacker. Mike Brown was absent last year, he was hurt. He’s as good a safety man as there is in the league.”
The Bears have won six straight and are in first place in the NFC North, thanks to their No. 1 ranked defense. A victory today would give Chicago its longest winning streak since the original Monsters of the Midway were still striking fear in opposing offenses. The Bears haven't won seven in a row since winning their final seven games of the 1986 season.
The Bucs are coming off a two key game winning streak. The wins came against the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Flacons. Both of these games, the Bucs came from behind to win. These games were highly emotional charged games. Do the Bucs have another one in them? I believe so. I think if the Bucs Defense can play like a number 3 or even number 1 defense they can destroy Chicago’s weak Offense. However, Chicago’s Defense can also be a terror for Chris Simms. Simms needs to manage the ball really good today, prevent turnovers and make key 1st downs. Cadillac and Alstott are the key to today’s wins. They need to get off to a fast start and wear this Defense down. If the run game is successful, the passing game will follow. Our defense can also win the game today by scoring Defensive touchdowns. Matt Bryant is another key in today’s game. If the game is a game of field goals Bryant needs to continue to perform well, WHICH I KNOW HE WILL.
STANDINGS: Bears 7-3 -- 1st place, NFC North.
Buccaneers 7-3 -- 1st place (tied), NFC South.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 24, 2004; Buccaneers, 19-7. At Tampa Bay, Michael Pittman had 164 yards of offense, just three fewer than what the Bears managed as a team.
BUCS-BEARS SERIES: Tampa Bay is 17-33 all-time in the regular season vs. Chicago. The Bucs are 12-14 at home vs. the Bears.
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium
WHEN: 11/27/2005 @1pm on Fox
BEARS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense -- 134.0 yards per game (5th in NFL); Passing Offense -- 129.5 ypg (30th); Total Offense -- 263.5 ypg (28th). Rushing Defense -- 91.2 ypg (7th); Passing Defense -- 160.9 ypg (2nd); Total Defense -- 252.1 ypg (1st).
BUCCANEERS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense -- 111.9 yards per game (17th); Passing Offense -- 196.0 ypg (T-21st); Total Offense -- 307.9 ypg (21st). Rushing Defense -- 94.2 ypg (8th); Passing Defense -- 178.5 ypg (7th); Total Defense -- 272.7 ypg (3rd).
STREAKS AND NOTES: Bears -- An NFL-high 42 percent of the Bears' points have come off turnovers. ... Chicago leads the league in red zone defense at 16.7 percent, as opponents have scored only four touchdowns in 22 trips inside the Bears 20-yard line. ... The Bears have lost eight of the last 11 meetings with Tampa Bay, and have scored a total of seven points in dropping the last two. Buccaneers -- Tampa Bay has won its last seven home games against non-division opponents. ... The Buccaneers are 5-0 this season when rushing for 100-plus yards. ... RB Williams has 243 fourth-quarter rushing yards, second only to the Seattle Seahawks' Shaun Alexander (253).
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bears -- 2-2 on the road;
Buccaneers -- 4-1 at home.
INJURY REPORT: Bucs: TE Anthony Becht (knee), T Anthony Davis (ankle) and safeties Will Allen (knee) and Dexter Jackson (hamstring) are questionable.
Bears: QB Rex Grossman (ankle) is questionable. WR Airese Curry (hamstring) is doubtful. RB Cedric Benson (knee) and WR Bernard Berrian (thumb) are out.
Favorite: Tampa Bay