The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) welcome an old NFC Central rival to town as they take on the 2-6 Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. Here are a few individual matchups that could play a key role in determining the outcome of this Week 10 contest:
Buccaneers T Donovan Smith vs. Bears LB Willie YoungGetting the ground game going and giving Winston time in the pocket to continue an efficient passing attack all starts up front with the Bucs' O-Line. At left tackle, Smith could see a lot of Young, who leads the Bears with six sacks. The Bears defense has 20 sacks this season, tied for 12th in the league.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Bears CB Tracy Porter Evans has eight touchdown catches through eight games this season and leads the NFL in that category. Even with defenses making an extra effort to contain him, he is on pace for franchise records in receptions, receiving yards and TD catches. Porter has two interceptions this season and could be the man called upon to try
to slow Evans down.Buccaneers RBs VS. Bears LB Jerrell Freeman **Freeman's 72 tackles this season are tied for 10th most in the NFL. He's been a key part of the Bears' run defense, which is allowing just 3.9 yards per rush, the ninth-best mark in the league. Injuries have forced the Bucs to use a number of different backs this season, but as a unit, Tampa Bay is still gaining 108.4 yards per game on the ground.
Bears WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Buccaneers CB Brent Grimes **Jeffery has been on the receiving end of 11 of Cutler's 48 completions this season, posting 241 yards and one touchdown on balls from his starting QB. Grimes has 12 passes defensed and one interception this season and could see a lot of the Bears' top receiving threat.
Bears QB Jay Cutler vs. Buccaneers DE Noah SpenceCutler had a strong 252-yard, 1-TD performance in last week's win, his first game back since sustaining an injury in Week Two. The Bears have allowed just 14 sacks this year, eighth-fewest in the NFL, but nine of them have been on Cutler in his 11 quarters of play. In the last three games, Spence has two sacks and a forced fumble.
Bears RB Jordan Howard vs. Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoyMcCoy leads the Buccaneers this season with four sacks and has also played a big role clogging the middle to stop the run game. Today, the Bucs face Howard, a dynamic rookie RB who has 505 rushing yards, 177 receiving yards and 5.8 yards per touch. If the key to the game defensively is getting off the field, it starts with containing Howard.