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NFL Thursday Night Preview: Buccaneers vs. Bears

It’s Thursday, and that can mean only one thing – it’s time for Thursday Night Football.  At least football fans know that Week 6 will have one regularly-scheduled game as they wait to see how much more damage the Tennessee Titans can do with their continued positive COVID-19 tests.

This Sunday will most likely see a couple of changes in the lineup, but the NFL has to first get through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Chicago Browns contest tonight.

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Bucs Try To Be Unstoppable

In Week 4, the Bucs got off to a slow start against the LA Chargers, but it didn’t take long for Tom Brady to show why he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.  He led Tampa Bay to a come-from-behind win, giving the Bucs a 3-1 record heading into tonight’s game.  Five touchdown passes were thrown to five different targets in last week’s game, and that makes things difficult for any defense to cover.

Mike Evans is equally as strong for the Bucs as is Brady.  The wide receiver has picked up five touchdowns in four games – at least one in each game of the season – and has two 100-yard games.  Last week, he was on fire against the Chargers and will be expected to bring the same performance tonight.  So far, he has 17 receptions for 230 yards, and fellow wide receiver Scott Miller is helping keep the Bucs rolling, as well.  Miller has two fewer receptions, but has picked up 250 yards as a result.

Tampa Bay has picked up at least 30 points per game this year and Brady is on a mission to show that he is still as alive as he ever was.  20 years in the league is a long time, unless you’re GOAT material, and Brady definitely is.

Bears Have To Lean On Defense

The Bears have a solid defense, and this is where they can make a difference tonight.  Chicago has never taken a win with Brady as the opposing quarterback, so it’s time for the defense to step up and shut him down.  Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will need to turn up the pressure and build on his already excellent season.  He has 3.5 sacks, 18 tackles and nine QB hits so far this year, and the only time he didn’t pick up a sack, the Bears lost.

Nick Foles is also going to have to guide the offense better.  The quarterback has had an up-and-down season so far, and a game against the Bucs is not one that can be played anything less than 110%.  While the Bears defense is capable of stopping Tampa Bay’s offense, Foles is still going to need to produce for Chicago to move the ball and put some points on the board.

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Injuries Could Make Difference

Both the Bucs and the Bears are dealing with injuries tonight that will impact the teams’ performances.  The Bears will be playing without Deon Bush due to a hamstring injury, and Sherrick McManis is currently listed as doubtful for the same problem.  Wide receiver Darnell Mooney is questionable for a shoulder injury; however, he was able to participate in yesterday’s team practice.

The Bucs are in a little worse shape.  Wide receivers Justin Watson and Chris Godwin are out, and Evans is listed as questionable.  In addition, running back Leonard Fournette is doubtful, while wide receiver Scotty Miller is questionable.  There are a number of offensive voids that have to be filled in order for the Bucs to make plays against the Bears defense.

Despite the injuries, oddsmakers are giving this one to the Bucs.  Unibet has Tampa Bay at -190, while the Bears are getting +163.  While the Bears could make an impact defensively, taking control offensively is where there will be a problem.  The Over/Under stands at 44.5 (-107) and this would make a better target for gamblers.  The Over has hit more often than not this season, but the Bears have taken the Under in both of their home games, and that trend will continue.  Expecting this to be a game won on field goals, the -3.5 (-110) spread for the Bucs seems to be doable, but shouldn’t be seen as a large-bet target.

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Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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