The post Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay got off to a strong start in week one with Baker Mayfield and the Bucs going on the road and getting a win over the Vikings. Now, in their first home game of the season, the Bucs will play host to a Bears team that was embarrassed at home by the new-look Packers. We’ll preview this weekend's matchup before going over which side I’ll be backing.
Chicago finally got Aaron Rodgers out of their division, but their first game against Jordan Love didn’t go as planned. In their 38-20 loss, Love lit up the Bears' secondary for 245 yards and three touchdowns, all while the Bears' offense struggled to move the ball downfield. Justin Fields finished the game with 216 passing yards to go along with one touchdown and one interception.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy got a lot of negative feedback on social media from Bears fans, and understandably so. The lack of explosiveness in the passing game is partially because the Bears' average depth of target was 3.1 yards, which is a big reason why the Chicago passing offense had an EPA of -5.86.
Defensively, the Bears' secondary had an EPA in the passing game of -16.59, which made their preseason ranking for the 20th-best secondary on PFF look far too generous. After taking on a young QB in week one, the Bears will now take on a veteran, Baker Mayfield, who finished with 173 yards and two touchdowns in the Bucs' 20-17 win over the Vikings.
After a slow start to the game, Mayfield settled in and found his primary targets, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who combined for 117 yards. While Mayfield kept the offense alive through the air, the Buccaneers run game was nonexistent, as Rachaad White led the team with 39 rush yards on 17 attempts.
Tampa Bay’s defense also deserves a ton of credit for their week one win since they finished the game with five turnovers (3 INTS, 2 fumbles). While the Bucs offense may not have established a run game, their defense ensured the Vikings didn’t either, as Tampa Bay held Minnesota to 41 rush yards and had a defensive EPA on run plays of 7.82.
Tampa Bay is currently listed as (-2.5) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. This is a matchup of one offensive coordinator who can’t scheme around his quarterback in Luke Getsy, and one in Dave Canales, who made an immediate adjustment on Sunday that instantly got Baker Mayfield going.
If Chicago continues with short routes and a heavy run game, they’ll play right into the Bucs' defensive strengths. Tampa Bay struggled with containing the deep ball from Kirk Cousins in week one, but Chicago doesn’t seem to have the ability or desire to push it downfield. This sets up a scenario where the Bucs' defense can play aggressively on the line of scrimmage. Tampa Bay pressured Cousins 13 times in week one, and now they play a Bears offensive line that allowed four sacks to the Packers.
Offensively, we may see the Bucs use Rachaad White a bit more this week, according to Dave Canales, and while Chicago was solid with stopping the run in week one, I still think Tampa Bay will find more success on the ground this week. The Bears d-line ranked 31st going into the season by PFF, so if the Bucs commit to establishing the run game, I think the offense will open up even more than it did in week one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)