(Too) Bold Predictions: A great Bucs offense vs. a great Bears defense


You've stumbled into (Too) Bold Predictions, a weekly column that is exactly what it sounds like! Here, we'll take nuanced, well-researched information and use to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 


J.J. Stankevitz 

1. The Bears’ defense “scores” half the team’s points.
Here’s how I see this going down: the Bears’ defense gets another touchdown, be it on a pick-six or a Khalil Mack/Akiem Hicks sack/strip/recovery taken to the house. But the other three come from a turnover deep in Tampa Bay territory that the Bears’ offense can’t convert into a touchdown, leading to a Cody Parkey field goal to get us to 10. And since I’m picking the Bears to win, 20-16 (more on that tomorrow), that’s how we get there. 

2. Jameis Winston will play, but not well.
The Bears’ defense will pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick and lead to some ineffectiveness from Bucs’ quarterback. So while he won’t start, Winston will get into the game at some point in an attempt to have a more mobile quarterback in there to try to counter the Bears’ pass rush. The thing though: it won’t work. Winston will commit a bad turnover late in the game that will wind up costing the Bucs dearly in a narrow win for the Bears. 

Cam Ellis

1. Mitchell Trubisky has his first reassuring performance of the year
Tampa Bay's defense is -- how should I put it -- astoundingly bad. Here's how QBs have played against the Buccaneers this year: 

  • Drew Brees, Week 1: 37/45, 439 YDS, 3 TDs
  • Nick Foles, Week 2: 35/48, 334 YDS, 1 TD
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Week 3: 30/38, 353 YDS, 3 TDs

The Bucs rank 29th in total DVOA and 27th in passing DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. What the Bucs *do* have, though, is a dynamic offense that's going to pile up yards. The Bears are coming into the game with a depleted secondary of their own, so this game feels like one where 30 points is going to win it. Trubisky's not going to have many better chances than this to prove he's the Bears' guy going forward. Something along the lines of 28/38 for 350 YDS and 2 TDs sounds right. 

2. Bryce Callahan will shut down DeSean Jackson and cement his place as one of this season's best cornerbacks. 
Callahan has quietly put up elite numbers through the first quarter of the season: 

He's been a lockdown nickle corner, and it'll be interesting to see how Vic Fangio uses him with Prince Amukamara out; per PFF, he's allowing 0.49 yards per cover snap, ranking sixth among cornerbacks.  With the assumption being that the Bears are going to have to use a bunch of nickle packages, will Callahan stay in his natural position or will depth issues require him to shadow one of their outside threats? 

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