Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What's Next: Short Week Leads to Prime Time in Chicago

The Bucs will try to stretch their winning streak to four games on Thursday in Chicago when they play the first of five prime-time games in a span of seven weeks.

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. The Chicago Bears won 30-26. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Bruce Arians may have to adjust his 24-hour rule to 18 or 12 hours this week. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be able to spare an entire day celebrating their explosive win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Win or lose, Arians instructs his players to contain their celebrations or frustrations to the 24 hours following the end of each game. The Buccaneers have been doing a lot of celebrating lately as they have ridden a three-game winning streak into first place in the NFC South, but they won't have much time to prepare for a fourth in a row.

The 3-1 Buccaneers head to Chicago this week to play the Bears, who took a 3-0 record into their Week Four matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucs and Bears will play before a national audience as they draw the first of their five prime-time games in 2020; kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. and the game will be broadcast by FOX. It will also be simulcast on NFL Network and Amazon. All five of Tampa Bay's prime-time games fall between Weeks Five and 11.

View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 4 matchup against Los Angeles.

After beating two AFC West teams in consecutive weeks, the Bucs will play their first non-division NFC opponent in Week Five. And for the third week in a row they will face a team whose quarterback is not the same one who started in Week One. The Bucs have gotten the best of injury replacements Jeff Driskel and Justin Herbert and now will face a familiar foe in Nick Foles, who replaced Mitchell Trubisky in the fourth quarter in Week Three and rallied Chicago to a win over Atlanta.

This will actually be the third straight season that the Buccaneers will play against Foles as a starter, albeit with three different teams. Tampa Bay won in Jacksonville last December, 28-11, with Foles starting but later giving way to Gardner Minshew. In the second week of 2018, the Bucs beat Philadelphia in Tampa, 27-21, with Foles under center in place of injured Carson Wentz. Foles does have two wins over Tampa Bay on his resume, both coming with the Eagles in 2012 and 2013.

The Buccaneers will be seeking their first 4-1 start to a season since 2005, a campaign that ended in an NFC South title and a playoff berth. To get there, the Bucs will probably have to play a more consistent game for 60 minutes. After beating the Broncos and Panthers with fast starts and quiet finishes, the Buccaneers fell behind the Chargers by a 24-17 margin on Sunday and then rallied in the second half for an exciting 38-31 win. Tom Brady tied a team single-game record with five touchdown passes, the last one to rookie RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn for a 35-31 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneers may need players like Vaughn and fellow 2020 draft pick Tyler Johnson to step up with more productive offense after suffering some significant injuries to their cast of offensive skill-position players. WR Chris Godwin is not expected to return from his hamstring injury in time to face the Bears, and the Bucs are also now without dynamic tight end O.J. Howard, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon against the Chargers.

Related Content