Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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2020 Game Preview: Buccaneers-Bears, Week 5

Two of the league's top-10 scoring defenses will be in the spotlight Thursday night when the Buccaneers head to Chicago for the first of their five prime-time games in a seven-week span

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record and a one-game lead in the NFC South. Now they're about to embark on one of the most remarkable stretches in team history. Over the next seven weeks, the Buccaneers will play five nationally-televised prime-time games, beginning with a Thursday-night matchup with the Bears in Chicago in Week Five.

The Buccaneers are seeking their first 4-1 start in 15 years but they're facing a tough challenge in a Bears team that is also 3-1 and has one of the league's stingiest defenses. Compounding that challenge is the short week and a suddenly concerning injury list that is centered around the wide receiver position.

Tampa Bay got to 3-1 with a comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers that included Tom Brady's best performance yet at as the Buccaneers' quarterback. Supported by an offensive line that gave him nearly flawless protection and blocked for Ronald Jones's 111-yard game, Brady threw for 369 yards and hit five different players on touchdown tosses. That line, too, will have a tough challenge against a Chicago front that features former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and disruptive interior lineman Akiem Hicks.

For the third time in as many weeks, the Buccaneers will do battle against a quarterback who was not his team's starter in Week One. In this case, that passer is veteran Nick Foles, who came over in an offseason trade from Jacksonville and is reunited with Quarterbacks Coach John DeFelippo, who was his offensive coordinator with the Eagles and Jaguars. Foles took over for Mitchell Trubisky in the second half of the Bears' Week Three game against Atlanta and led his team to a comeback victory.

Given its injuries on the offensive side of the ball (more on that below), Tampa Bay will likely lean on its young but impressive defense on Thursday night. That group ranks fourth in yards allowed, is tied for ninth in points allowed, is ninth in red zone defense, has the league's fifth-best sack rate per drop-back and has allowed the second fewest first downs per game and fourth-worst third-down success rate.

The Buccaneers begin their run of prime-time exposure with a difficult challenge on the road on a short week, but their confidence is high as they head into Chicago on a three-game winning streak. The Bears saw their own three-game winning streak snapped in Week Four but are still in the thick of the division race in a very competitive NFC North. Tampa Bay has played Chicago more times than any other team in the NFL, but the latest installment in the series might be one of the most important matchups in a long time.

GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) at Chicago Bears (3-1)

Thursday, October 11, 8:20 p.m. ET

Soldier Field (capacity: 61,500…no fans will be in attendance)

Chicago, Illinois

Television: FOX (Local WTVT Channel 13)…Also simulcast on NFL Network and Amazon

TV Broadcast Team: Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst), Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink (reporters)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)

ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES

The Buccaneers and Bears missed each other last season. After five straight seasons with a head-to-head meeting – an unusual occurrence for teams not in the same division – Tampa Bay and Chicago took 2019 off but they're getting back together in 2020.

The Buccaneers 59 meetings with Chicago are their most against any opponent, largely because they shared the old NFC Central for 25 years (1977-2001). Chicago has a lopsided lead in the all-time series, 39-20, and that's the result of their prowess in the 1980s coinciding with a rough stretch for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay finally reversed its fortunes in 1997 and since that season they have an 11-10 lead in the series with Chicago. Since Tampa Bay left the Bears' division, which was then rebranded the NFC North, in 2002, Chicago has a narrow 6-5 edge in the series.

The Bears got that one-game lead with one of the most lopsided finals in the series, a 48-10 victory in Chicago in 2018. In fact, that 38-point winning margin ranks as the best ever for Chicago against the Buccaneers, though a 41-0 blanking by Tampa Bay at home in 2000 holds the top spot overall. Trubisky threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns in that 2018 contest.

Interestingly, four of the Buccaneers' 10 playoff seasons have ended with a win over Chicago in the regular-season finale. The first was in 1982, when the Bucs won their last three in a strike-shortened season to sneak into the expanded playoff field, the last of which was a 26-23 overtime decision against the Bears in Tampa. The Bucs rallied from a 23-6 halftime deficit with two Jimmie Giles touchdown catches and two Bill Capece field goals, the second one from 33 yards in overtime.

During their stretch of five playoff berths in six seasons from 1997-2002, the Buccaneers won in Week 17 at home against the Bears in 1997 and in Illinois in 1999 and 2002. All three were comfortable victories. In 1997, then-rookie Warrick Dunn ran wild and picks by Donnie Abraham and Melvin Johnson keyed a stifling defensive effort in a 31-15 decision. In 1999 in Chicago, the Buccaneers won their first division title in 18 years when the Mike Alstott and Dave Moore scored touchdowns and Abraham had another pick. That game was unfortunately the last one of Paul Gruber's career as he suffered a broken leg and retired after the season. In 2002, the Buccaneers were able to clinch a first-round bye when they shut out the Bears, 15-0, in a game played at the University of Illinois in Champaign. All 15 points came on Martin Gramatica field goals on an evening in which the wind was screaming in one direction. Derrick Brooks had a key interception.

Tampa Bay's most recent win in the series was in 2017. That game was supposed to be the Bucs' home opener in Week Two but Hurricane Irma forced the Tampa Bay-Miami game in Week One to be moved to later in the season. After an impromptu Week One bye, the Buccaneers made their 2017 debut against Chicago, facing off against their former quarterback, Mike Glennon. Kwon Alexander had an interception and Mike Evans scored a touchdown among his seven catches for 93 yards, helping the Bucs win easily, 29-7.

View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster as it currently stands.

NOTABLE CONNECTIONS

·    Buccaneers Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin was an assistant offensive line coach for the Bears from 2004-06 on Lovie Smith's staff. Prior to that, Tampa Bay Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong held the same position for the Bears from 1997-2000, working under Head Coaches Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron.

·    Buccaneers Specialists Coach Chris Boniol was a kicker in the NFL for six seasons (1994-99), the last of which was with the Chicago Bears. Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell is also a former Bears player, having played linebacker in Chicago in 2002 as part of an 11-year NFL career.

·    Bears LB Devante Bond, who is on the practice squad but was elevated to the game day roster last week, entered the league as a sixth-round pick by the Buccaneers in the 2016 draft. Bond played in 29 games with six starts over parts of three seasons in Tampa. After being waived by the Buccaneers last season he signed with Chicago in December and got into three games. Another former Bucs' draft pick, DE Terry Beckner (2019, seventh-round), is also on the Bears' practice squad.

·    Chicago's current placekicker, Cairo Santos, handled that job for the Buccaneers for the last seven games of the 2018 season. He made nine of his 12 field goal attempts and all 17 of his extra point tries for Tampa.

·    When Chuck Pagano landed the head coaching position in Indianapolis in 2012 he hired Bruce Arians to be his offensive coordinator. Early in that season Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and had to undergo treatment for three months. Arians took over as the head coach and led the Colts to a 9-3 record, helping them reach the playoffs. Arians was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year for his efforts. Those two good friends will reunite on Thursday when Arians, now the Buccaneers' head coach, brings his team to face the Bears and Pagano, who is the team's defensive coordinator.

·    Bears Assistant Offensive Line Coach Donovan Raiola also played in the NFL, first signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Over the next six years he also spent time with the Steelers, Seahawks, Bears, Buccaneers and Washington. It was with Tampa Bay in 2010 that Raiola saw action in the lone regular-season game of his career.

SENIOR COACHING STAFFS

·    Tampa Bay:

·    Head Coach Bruce Arians

·    Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin

·    Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles

·    Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

·    Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong

·    Chicago:

·    Head Coach Matt Nagy

·    Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor

·    Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

·    Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor

KEY 2020 ROSTER ADDITIONS

Buccaneers:

·    QB Tom Brady (UFA)

·    RB Leonard Fournette (FA)

·    TE Rob Gronkowski (T-NE)

·    T Joe Haeg (UFA)

·    WR Tyler Johnson (5th-round draft pick)

·    RB LeSean McCoy (FA)

·    C A.Q. Shipley (FA)

·    K Ryan Succop (FA)

·    RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn (3rd-round draft pick)

·    S Antoine Winfield Jr. (2nd-round draft pick)

·    T Tristan Wirfs (1st-round draft pick)

Bears:

·    QB Nick Foles (T-JAX)

·    WR Ted Ginn (FA)

·    S Tashaun Gipson (FA)

·    LB Trevis Gipson (5th-round draft pick)

·    TE Jimmy Graham (FA)

·    G Germain Ifedi (UFA)

·    CB Jaylon Johnson (2nd-round draft pick)

·    TE Cole Kmet (2nd-round draft pick)

·    OLB Barkevious Mingo (UFA)

·    WR Darnell Mooney (5th-round draft pick)

·    OLB Robert Quinn (UFA)

·    K Cairo Santos (FA)

·    T Jason Spriggs (UFA)

ADDITIONAL 2020 CHANGES OF NOTE

Buccaneers:

·    Though it is noted in the "Roster Additions" section above, it's worth further elaborating on the extremely dramatic change the Buccaneers made at the game's most important position. After five seasons, the team moved on from Jameis Winston, the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft, and filled the starting quarterback spot with the man many consider the G.O.A.T., former Patriot Tom Brady. Brady brings 20 years of experience and six Super Bowl championship rings to Tampa in one of the most notable free agent signings in NFL history. Brady's move to the Buccaneers also prompted former Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement and he was promptly traded to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round draft pick.

·    Tampa Bay debuted new uniforms in Week One in New Orleans. The uniforms are largely inspired by the ones the team wore during its Super Bowl era and overall from 1997 through 2013. Some elements of the uniforms introduced in 2014 remain, such as the sharper, more detailed skull-and-crossed-swords logo and the larger flag on the helmet (though not as large as before). The uniforms debuting in 2020 also include an all-pewter version that is completely unique in team and NFL history and was worn for the first time in Denver in Week Three.

·    The Buccaneers have two new additions to their coaching staff in 2020: Defensive/Special Teams Assistant Keith Tandy and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Cory Bichey. Tandy worked at the high school and college levels in 2019, the latter at his alma mater of West Virginia, but he begins his NFL coaching career with the same team that drafted him in 2012. Tandy spent six seasons in Tampa as a safety and special teams standout before finishing his playing career in Atlanta in 2018. Bichey comes to the Buccaneers from Mississippi State University, where he previously worked under current Buccaneers Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli.

·    The Buccaneers used their franchise tag during the 2020 offseason for the first time in eight years. That tag was employed to retain outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who went from a rotational reserve in Denver to the NFL's 2019 sack leader after signing with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent. Barrett's 19.5 sacks in his first year with the Buccaneers broke Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record and made him one of the team's top priorities in the offseason. Barrett and the Bucs were unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal during the 2020 offseason, in part due to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Barrett will play on the tag's one-year contract this fall.

Bears:

·    After the 2019 season, in which the Bears finished 29th in both yards and points scored, the team made several changes to its coaching staff, most notably firing Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich. The Bears brought in Bill Lazor, who had held the same position with Cincinnati in 2017 and 2018, to replace Helfrich. In addition, Juan Castillo replaced Harry Hiestand as offensive line coach and Clancy Barone replaced Kevin M. Gilbride as tight ends coach.

·    Chicago also brought in former Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to be the quarterbacks coach, with Dave Ragone moving from that position to passing game coordinator. DeFilippo had previously worked with quarterback Nick Foles, who the Bears acquired in a trade, in both Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

·    Speaking of Foles, he took over as the Bears' starting quarterback in Week Four after relieving Mitchell Trubisky in the fourth quarter of a game against Atlanta in Week Three and leading Chicago to a big comeback win. That move could end up being one of the bigger changes an NFL organization can make, and the groundwork was laid back in March when the Bears traded with Jacksonville to acquire the veteran quarterback. Foles competed with Trubisky for the starting job in training camp, but Trubisky held onto the job, perhaps in part because of the condensed camp schedule with no preseason games. If Trubisky does not regain the starting job, the Bears will be moving on from the second-overall pick in the 2017 draft.

·    The Bears have already moved on from their 2016 first-round pick, as edge rusher Leonard Floyd was released on March 17. In addition, guard Kyle Long retired after the 2019 season after injuries had caused him to miss 34 games over the previous four campaigns.

TOP STORYLINES

Next Man Men Up – Injuries have been a big part of the story of the first month of the NFL's 2020 season, and some teams have been hit harder than others. In fact, Tampa Bay's last two opponents, the Broncos and Chargers, had long lists of unavailable players beginning with their Week One quarterbacks. So the Buccaneers will not be expecting any sympathy in Week Five as they navigate a short week with an injury report that grew significantly during the team's Week Four win over Los Angeles. The specific problem for the Buccaneers is that the injuries have clustered around their pass-catchers; on Monday, the Buccaneers top six wide receivers and tight ends (in terms of 2020 receptions) were all on the injury report, with only Rob Gronkowski able to participate in a limited fashion. Wide receivers Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Scotty Miller and Justin Watson all started the week unable to practice, and tight end O.J. Howard saw his season end with an Achilles tendon rupture on Sunday. How the Buccaneers will approach their offensive game plan on Thursday night will be determined in part by how many, if any, of those players are able to suit up, and who they'll expect to step up into bigger roles. That latter list could include rookie wide receiver Tyler Johnson and speedy wideout Cyril Grayson, just signed off the practice squad.

Black and Blue Days – The Buccaneers and Bears shared the NFC Central division for 25 years until the league's 2002 realignment, and it was known as a bruising division featuring many impressive defenses. As Chicago and Tampa Bay reunite in 2020 they might revisit those "Black-and-Blue Division" days, as both teams have shown the potential to control games defensively. After one month of play, both teams are in the top 10 in the NFL's defensive rankings in terms of both points and yards. The Buccaneers also have a top-10 scoring offense but might have difficulty maintaining that ranking if their skill-position ranks are significantly thinned. Meanwhile, the Bears are without running back Tarik Cohen and were able to muster just 11 points in Nick Foles' first start of the season in Week Four. The Bears' defense is led by veteran stars like edge rusher Khalil Mack, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and safety Eddie Jackson. Tampa Bay's crew is an up-and-coming unit of young players such as inside linebacker Devin White, cornerback Carlton Davis and rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. A Buccaneers-Bears slugfest would feel like old times and might be the best chance for either team to come out with a win.

Super Bowl LII Says Hi – Let us be the first…okay, the 40th…source to point out that Thursday night's game is a matchup of the two quarterbacks who did battle in Super Bowl LII at the end of the 2017 season. Foles was in for an injured Carson Wentz and he was able to direct a thrilling 41-33 victory over Tom Brady's Patriots. Brady, who has six Super Bowl championships of his own, certainly did nothing to hurt his chances at another one, throwing for 505 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions. Given the outcome, it surely isn't the favorite of Brady's nine Super Bowl appearances, even if it was his most prolific. He'll have his chance to square off against Foles again after the Bears made a switch in Week Three, benching Mitchell Trubisky in the second half of a game against Atlanta, only to see the veteran lead a wild comeback for a Chicago win that kept the Bears undefeated. That's no longer the case after Chicago fell to Indianapolis in Foles' first start, but the ninth-year veteran is still capable of some prolific outings.

60 Minutes – Brady just had his most prolific outing as a Buccaneer, throwing for 369 yards and five touchdowns in what was the 93rd 300-yard game of his career. His 11 touchdowns this season equal the most any Tampa Bay quarterback has ever had through the first four games of a season. Clearly, Brady and the Bucs' offense are capable of getting in a groove…they just haven't done so for a full game yet this year. After wins over Carolina and Denver in which Brady and the offense came out hot and built an early lead only to lose their momentum, the Buccaneers were sluggish in the first half in Week Four before exploding for 307 second-half yards. Said Brady: "We made some plays in the third quarter and made some good plays in the fourth quarter. Started the game well [and] finished the game well – that middle part – we have to figure out how to play 60 minutes well." The Buccaneers are 3-1 and are scoring 30 points a game, so there's plenty of reason to be excited about what they can accomplish on offense behind Brady's leadership, but they could avoid some late-game nail-chewing if they can stay productive on offense for four quarters for the first time on Thursday night. That will obviously be more difficult to do if many of Brady's top targets are on the sideline, but it's still the goal.

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood – The Buccaneers will see something familiar on Thursday night: a passing attack that runs largely through one high-volume wide receiver. Tampa Bay faced the ultimate version of that in Week One but cornerback Carlton Davis was able to three catches for 17 yards. Last week, Keenan Allen, the NFL's co-leader in targets, caught eight passes for 62 yards for the Chargers but it was other L.A. receivers who made the day's big plays. Now the Buccaneers will have to figure out what to do about Allen Robinson, who has nearly double the targets of any other player in the Bears' offense. Robinson is making the high-volume approach work, ranking ninth in the NFL with 331 receiving yards. The Bears' next most prolific pass-catcher is tight end Jimmy Graham, who has three touchdown grabs but is probably not as dynamic as he was at his peak, as evidenced by his 9.7 yards per carry. Foles also doesn't have Cohen to throw passes to out of the backfield. The Bears' second-most prolific wide receiver so far is fifth-round rookie Darnell Mooney, who has 13 catches for 145 yards. Will the Buccaneers focus on limiting Robinson and force Foles to look elsewhere? They could choose to do so by shadowing him with cornerback Carlton Davis, who has shown he can shut down some of the league's best pass-catchers.

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Bears WR Anthony Miller vs. Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

As noted above, Allen Robinson is the focus of the Bears' passing attack, and thus it's possible the Buccaneers' defense will make a point of trying to neutralize him first. If they are able to do that, Foles will have to turn to other targets, including third-year man Anthony Miller, a second-round pick in 2018. Miller operates almost exclusively out of the slot, taking 90% of his snaps (125 of 139) inside. That means he'll be the primary responsibility of Murphy-Bunting, who overcame a groin injury to suit up and play every snap against Los Angeles. Murphy-Bunting starts on the outside in the Bucs' base defense but moves into the slot in the nickel, which generally consists of about 60% of the team's defensive snaps. Murphy-Bunting is still looking for his first interception of 2020 but he led the team in that category with three of them as a rookie in 2019. Miller is shifty and quick and had 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns over his first two seasons. This year, Miller has been limited to nine grabs in four games but he's averaged 14.8 yards per reception.

2. Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Bears OLB Khalil Mack

Mack comes into Week Five with "only" 1.5 sacks but there's no doubt he's one of the NFL's most fearsome edge rushers and a serious concern for the Bucs' blockers on Thursday night. Mack has it all as a pass-rusher, including a good first step, a deep array of moves and the ability to power through blockers. In addition, he is capable of dropping into coverage and affecting the offense in multiple ways. This is a player who once was named a first-team Associated Press All-Pro at both defensive end and outside linebacker. The Buccaneers will need a concerted effort to keep Mack in check, and that will include strong games from tackles Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs. But Gronkowski, who has taken 91% of his snaps this year tight against one of those tackles, more often on the right side, will have to deal with Mack on multiple occasions, too. On one hand, Gronkowski, an excellent blocker, will be looking to keep Mack away from Tom Brady. On the other hand, Mack may occasionally have to keep Gronkowski in check when he releases from the line.

3. Bears RG Germain Ifedi vs. Buccaneers DL Will Gholston

Chicago signed Ifedi, the former Seahawks first-rounder, in free agency and moved him back to guard after he had played the last few seasons in Seattle at tackle. Ifedi and the Bears' offensive line have had some success early in 2020, as the team ranks 14th in sacks allowed per pass play (5.10%) and 12th in yards per carry (4.38). It will be a tough challenge for the Bears' interior line, however, against the Bucs' down linemen, who collectively were the key to the NFL's best run defense in 2019. That same group, lead by Gholston, Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, have the Bucs ranked second in the same category this year and are allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. Gholston will be difficult for Ifedi to move when they lock up on running plays, but that's not the only issue for the Bears' blocker. According to NFL Next Gen stats, as reported by ESPN, Gholston had the third-best win rate on pass rushes among all NFL defensive tackles leading into the NFL's fourth week of action.

4. Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones vs. Bears S Tashaun Gipson

Jones had his best game of the season in Week Four, rushing for 111 yards on 20 carries and impressing both his coaches and his teammates with how hard he ran on several tackle-breaking jaunts. Head Coach Bruce Arians credited Jones's success on the ground with creating the environment that allowed Tom Brady to open up the passing attack with downfield shots in the second half of Sunday's win over the Chargers. Arians specifically noted that he didn't think the Chargers' safeties were able to corral Jones all afternoon when the blocking sprung the back past the initial line of tacklers. The Bears have a pair of strong tacklers at safety in Gipson and Eddie Jackson, and they may be the key to keeping Jones from cracking 100 yards again. That might be particularly important if the Bucs' passing attack is hamstrung by its multiple injuries. Gipson has been strong in run support with 13 of his 24 tackles so far coming on run plays.

INJURY REPORT

Key:

DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed

Buccaneers:

· WR Mike Evans (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.

· RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Doubtful.

· DL William Gholston (neck) – MON: LP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· TE Rob Gronkowski (shoulder) – MON: LP; TUES: LP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· TE O.J. Howard (Achilles) – MON: DNP; TUES: Placed on injured reserve.

· RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· WR Scotty Miller (hip/groin) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: LP. Game Status: Questionable.

· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) – MON: LP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – MON: NL; TUES: NL; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Justin Watson (chest) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

Bears:

S Deon Bush (hamstring) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Out.

DT Akiem Hicks (hand/ankle/shoulder) – MON: FP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

OLB Khalil Mack (knee) – MON: LP; TUES: LP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

T Bobby Massie (thigh) – MON: FP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

S Sherrick McManis (hamstring) – MON: DNP; TUES: DNP; WEDS: DNP. Game Status: Doubtful.

WR Darnell Mooney (shoulder) – MON: FP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

ILB Josh Woods (thumb) – MON: FP; TUES: FP; WEDS: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

WEATHER FORECAST

Mostly clear night sky, high of 67, low of 52, 0% chance of rain, 73% humidity, winds out of the SSE at 5-10 mph.

GAME REFEREE

Head referee: Alex Kemp (seventh season, third as referee)

BETTING LINE

·    Favorite: Buccaneers (-6.0)

·    Over/Under: 45.0

INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS

Buccaneers-

Points Scored: WR Mike Evans, 30

Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 5

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 1,122

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 99.5

Rushing Yards: RB Ronald Jones, 253

Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 17

Receiving Yards: WR Scotty Miller, 250

Interceptions: CB Carlton Davis, 2

Sacks: OLB Shaquil Barrett/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, 3.0

Tackles: ILB Devin White, 37

Bears-

Points Scored: K Cairo Santos, 23

Touchdowns: TE Jimmy Graham, 3

Passing Yards: QB Mitchell Trubisky, 560

Passer Rating: QB Mitchell Trubisky, 87.3

Rushing Yards: RB David Montgomery, 218

Receptions: WR Allen Robinson, 25

Receiving Yards: WR Allen Robinson, 331

Interceptions: S Deon Bush/CB Kyle Fuller/S Tashaun Gipson, 1

Sacks: DT Akiem Hicks, 3.5

Tackles: ILB Roquan Smith, 33

TEAM STAT RANKINGS

Buccaneers-

Scoring Offense: 8th (30.0 ppg)

Total Offense: 16th (371.5 ypg)

Passing Offense: 9th (273.8 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 27th (97.8 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-21st (22.0)

Third-Down Pct.: t-12th (45.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 4th (3.23%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: t-2nd (80.0%)

Scoring Defense: t-10th (23.0 ppg)

Total Defense: 4th (312.0 ypg)

Passing Defense: 19th (247.8 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 2nd (64.3 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 2nd (17.5)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 10th (40.0%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 4th (10.22%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-9th (53.9%)

Turnover Margin: t-8th (+2)

Bears-

Scoring Offense: 25th (21.3 ppg)

Total Offense: 24th (343.3 ypg)

Passing Offense: 21st (232.8 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 20th (110.5 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-23rd (21.0)

Third-Down Pct.: 31st (33.9%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 13th (5.10%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: t-25th (50.0%)

Scoring Defense: 7th (20.3 ppg)

Total Defense: 8th (345.3 ypg)

Passing Defense: 9th (230.3 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 16th (115.0 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 11th (21.8)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 3rd (34.4%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 21st (5.37%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 1st (37.5%)

Turnover Margin: 21st (-1)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

·    Wide receiver Mike Evans set a franchise record with a touchdown reception in his fifth straight game against the Chargers in Week Four. That gave him five touchdowns in 2020 and he would need just one more in Chicago to tie Chris Godwin's team record for most scoring grabs in the first five games of a season. Godwin had six in 2019.

·    Tight end Cameron Brate caught his first pass of the season in the Bucs' Week Four win over the Chargers and it went for a three-yard touchdown. That was the 28th touchdown catch of Brate's career, putting him in a tie with wide receiver Joey Galloway for fourth place on the all-time franchise list. One more, obviously, would give him that spot all alone, and put him two behind wide receiver Kevin House for third place.

·    A win against the Bears in Week Five would give the Buccaneers their first 4-1 start to a season since 2005.

·    OLB Jason Pierre-Paul has 23.0 sacks since joining the Buccaneers. He needs three more to catch Greg Spires and crack the Buccaneers' all-time top 10 in this category.

·    The Buccaneers limited the Chargers to 46 rushing yards in Week Four, marking the 10th straight opponent they have held to fewer than 100 rushing yards. If the Buccaneers can do the same to the Bears on Thursday, they will set a new franchise record with 11 straight games under 100. That would also be the longest streak by any team since the 2014 Detroit Lions.

·    Tom Brady recorded his 93rd career 300-yard passing game last Sunday against the Chargers, which put him in a tie with Peyton Manning for second place in NFL history. Brady would stand alone in second, behind only Drew Brees with another 300-yard outing on Thursday night.

NOTABLY QUOTABLE

·    Head Coach Bruce Arians on how the team prepares for a short week with a Thursday game on the road: "It started right after the game. All the therapy and stuff that we can do, postgame stuff to get ready – but, you can't go out and practice. We wouldn't practice again until Wednesday – we'll be flying out – but it's a mental week. Sleep, hydration are key. A lot of treatment and making sure we can get the things done on the practice field mentally so we're prepared to play."

·    Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles on the continued strong play of ninth-year veteran ILB Lavonte David, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month: "He's been outstanding. He was like that last year every game, he just didn't get credit for it. He comes to work and does the same thing every time – that's like a normal day for him. He's very well prepared, he's very well in shape, he understands the game well and he loves to play."

·    Guard Ali Marpet on how he has settled in at right guard and how the line is playing well as a unit: "It's great. I think the verbal communication's kind of down to a minimum. You kind of just have an understanding of how the guys play next to you, which is really where you want to get to from an offensive line standpoint. I think that we all feel really good about how we're playing. Obviously, there's a lot of things we can clean up, but feeling out what the guy's going to do next to you is really important and I think we have a good sense of that."

·    Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich on preparing for a game on Thursday night without knowing for sure which of the team's injured skill-position players will be able to suit up: "It's a lot of thought that has to be put in [because] you don't know. The unknown, the inability to really, truly know until you get to the game – it always makes it a little more difficult. Hey, it is what it is [and] it's what everybody has to go through every Thursday night, probably. Thursdays get here quick when you play on Sunday, so it's a lot of work that has to be done. We're doing double time – that's us as coaches [and] us as players. We've been here before – we've played Thursday night games before. We know they're a little difficult – especially when you're traveling – so we're just trying to do everything we can to prepare."

·    Tight end Cameron Brate on the likelihood he'll be much more involved in the offense after O.J. Howard was lost for the season: "I feel terrible for O.J. He was playing great and I just feel really bad for him with how things worked out. That's kind of just the nature of the beast. I was kind of just biding my time there for a little bit, so I'm feeling very fresh. Heading into the short week, I feel like I kind of have the leg up on everyone else. I haven't been playing too much, but as a football player, you obviously want to play. You feel like you're contributing, right? I kind of had to take the back seat there for the first few weeks. I was still preparing as if I was going to be playing every play, taking all the mental reps and everything like that, and [I was] still getting the work in practice. I feel like from a preparation standpoint I'm ready to go and excited about the opportunity, not just for me, but for other guys to step up too."

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