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What's Next: 1-0 Bucs Battle Bears in 2023 Home Opener

The Bucs will try to fashion their third straight 2-0 start to the season, facing another former NFC Central opponent in their first home game of 2023 after their Week One victory in Minnesota


After leaving Minnesota with a rousing 20-17 win over the Vikings on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their first regular season home game in Week Two against another former NFC Central opponent. The Buccaneers take on the Bears on Sunday, September 17 at Raymond James Stadium, with kickoff schedule for 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally by FOX. The Buccaneers will be seeking their third straight 2-0 start to a season within the larger framework of trying to defend their back-to-back NFC South titles.

This marks the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that Tampa Bay and Chicago will clash, with the Bears winning four of the previous seven. The Buccaneers have the most recent victory in the series, a decisive 38-3 final in 2021 that featured three touchdown catches by Mike Evans and three interceptions by the Bucs' defense off then-rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears finished the 2022 season with the league's worst record at 3-14, thereby earning the first pick in the 2023 draft. The organization chose to trade that top pick to the Carolina Panthers, thereby signaling that they were going to continue to build around Fields, their 2021 first-round pick. Fields rushed for 1,143 yards last season, the second-highest total ever for an NFL quarterback, and he began his third season with 59 rushing yards plus 216 yards and a touchdown through the air in the Bears' 38-20 loss to the Packers.

Fields has averaged only 152.3 passing yards per game over his first two seasons, but the Bears made an effort to improve the offense around him in the offseason, including picking up new number-one wide receiver D.J. Moore in the aforementioned trade with Carolina. Chicago also gave Fields a new right side of the O-Line in Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright, drafted 10th overall, and former Titan guard Nate Davis, signed in free agency. The backfield got new contributors as well, with D'Onta Foreman coming over from the Panthers and former Texas back Roschon Johnson entering via the fourth round of the draft. In Sunday's game against the Packers, that offense produced 311 yards but had trouble converting third downs and turned it over twice.

Chicago's defense allowed a league-worst 27.2 points per game in 2022, in part the result of midseason trades of star off-ball linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive end Robert Quinn. The Bears spent big in free agency to bolster that depleted front seven, signing linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds as well as edge rushers DeMarcus Walker and Yannick Ngakoue. The interior line got even more reinforcements, as the Bears signed former Chargers nose tackle Andrew Billings in free agency and then used second and third-round draft picks on defensive tackles Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens.

The Buccaneers will play four of their next five games at home, including a Monday Night matchup with Philadelphia in Week Three and visits from Detroit and Atlanta following their Week Five bye.

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