After a choppy start, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to be cruising along with Tom Brady, who is getting very comfortable in the offense. And they are considered very serious contenders for the NFC South title. On Thursday night they will be traveling to the Windy City for a date with the Chicago Bears, scheduled for 8:20 PM ET at Soldier Field. BetAnySports customers can catch this game on FOX, or on Amazon Prime Video (if they are a subscriber).
This is a rematch of sorts between Brady and Nick Foles, who dueled in Super Bowl 52. That one came down on Foles’ side, and both guys have moved on. For Foles, it’s been a saga that included another year as Carson Wentz’s backup and having to replace him for the playoffs, then a big-money signing with Jacksonville, and now a stop in Chicago, where he came off the bench to throw three TD passes and beat Atlanta a couple of weeks ago.
Brady, who lost his Bucs’ debut in New Orleans, has come roaring back with three straight wins, including a 38-31 victory last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, where he tossed five touchdown passes and brought his team back from a 24-7 deficit. He found five different people for those scores, so he’s spreading the ball around.
In the Thursday Night Football odds on this game, as they are posted at BetAnySports, the Bucs are laying points on the road:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -4.5
Chicago Bears +4.5
Over 44 points -110
Under 44 points -110
Chicago put forth a rather limp offensive effort against the Indianapolis Colts last week, losing 19-11 despite 249 yards through the air for Foles. The Bears showed no semblance of a running game, with 16 rushes for 28 yards. And you can’t blame it all on the injury to Tarik Cohen (out with an ACL). It is entirely likely that with Tampa Bay “stuffing” 24% of opposition running plays, not to mention ranking #1 in a metric called “2nd Level Yards,” the Bears are going to probably shy away from trying to establish a ground attack. So it will be up to Foles against a Bucs’ stop unit that has allowed QB’s to complete 71%.
Of at least some concern must be the Tampa Bay injuries. Mike Evans, who caught seven passes for 122 yards last week, has a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable. Brady threw two TD passes to tight ends in last week’s game; Rob Gronkowski, who had just one reception, wasn’t one of them. But OJ Howard was, and he has suffered a ruptured Achilles. Chris Godwin probably won’t go because of his hamstring injury. Wide receiver Scotty Miller, who caught one of Brady’s TD’s against the Chargers, is nursing a groin injury and is questionable. Leonard Fournette, who sat out last week, is also questionable with an ankle injury.
If Fournette is lost to them, it may not be a huge obstacle, since Rodney Jones managed 111 yards on the ground vs. the Bolts. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn also caught one of Brady’s five TD’s. Howard’s a big loss, but not so big if Gronk can play a bigger role.
The Bears would be looking to get some pressure with folks like Khalil Mack, whose knee is a little banged up, and it is worth keeping in mind that they have allowed a league-best 56.4% completions. But Brady is in form, and coach Bruce Arians seems to be happier than he was after the first week. What you want to remember about Arians as well is that his games tend to have a heavy bias toward the OVER. We’re talking 30 of the last 41 games he’s coached, and we are going back to his time in Arizona, obviously. That’s a trend worth following, and the number is agreeable with these Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks trading blows (and we say that considering Chicago won’t be chewing clock with a ground game). Brady may trade more, and he’ll have to, because his secondary doesn’t much compare to the one he had in New England last year.
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