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The 3-3 Chicago Bears are counting on three rookies – quarterback Justin Fields, running back Khalil Herbert, and tight end Kmet Cole – to help them rise above .500 in Tampa this weekend, but the Bears’ seventh-best defense will face GOAT Tom Brady and with Chicago only scoring just over 16 points per game, that math has to change for them to post a Week 7 win.
The 5-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the last Super Bowl and then essentially brought everyone back, and now veteran quarterback Tom Brady gets to target some of the best receivers in the league – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and TE OJ Howard – while waiting on his old friend and future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski (ribs) to get back to work.
These two NFC rivals have played each other 60 prior times, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning 20 of those games and the Chicago Bears winning 40 of the games.
Since Week 3, the Bears have started rookie Justin Fields under center and so far despite getting pummeled by Browns, he has posted a 2-2 record and having been sacked 18 times now leads the league in yardage lost due to those sacks (163 yards lost).
Like most quarterbacks new to the league, Fields is adjusting to the pro level which moves faster than he is used to, which probably explains why he has thrown more interceptions (3) than touchdown passes (2) in his first NFL season.
Fields’ main targets – receivers Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney and slot man Marquise Goodwin – should benefit from all the excellent tight end help that Chicago has via rookie Kmet Cole and veterans Jimmy Graham and Jesse James.
After six games, the Buccaneers’ rushing attack is ranked 28th in the league after averaging just 85 yards on the ground per game, the perfect area for this already stellar franchise to improve despite winning five games now.
Out of Tampa Bay’s backfield come Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, and Giovani Bernard, three veteran running backs who should be doing better than what the stats describe, a squad that requires a front line capable of opening big enough holes for them to squeeze through.
The Buccaneers put over 32 points per game on the scoreboard and most of that output comes from Tom Brady’s excellent passing game but as the temperatures get colder and throwing the ball gets tougher this playoff-bound team needs to get better at running the ball.
The Chicago Bears have a top-7 rushing attack and that stars rookie running back Khalil Herbert, a 5’ 9” 212-pound block of muscle who has been averaging 4.5 yards per carry so far this season.
Herbert’s best game so far in 2021 was last week against the Green Bay Packers when the dual-threat carried the ball 19 times for 97 yards and a touchdown averaging 5.11 yards per carry while catching two passes for another 15 yards.
The sixth-round pick Herbert should play a big role in this Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers as he faces their number one ranked rush defense that keeps opposing backs to under 55 yards on the ground per game, an important role as his team’s rookie quarterback continues to grow and evolve his game.
It’s not like the 5-1 Buccaneers need their injured tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs) to play this Sunday since they have all the star playmakers they need, but why not utilize the future Hall of Famer who can block almost as well as he can catch and run with the ball.
In the first three games of the season, Gronk caught 16 balls for 184 total yards and four touchdowns averaging almost 12 yards per catch and snagging 76 percent of the balls targeted to him, numbers that keep his quarterback Brady looking for him in the red zone.
Right now the injured Gronkowski is listed as questionable for Sunday so he will remain a coach’s decision right up until the game time, but if he does get to play keep an eye out for him when Tampa Bay gets within twenty yards of the end zone since that is where he tends to be repeatedly targeted.
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|Bears vs Buccaneers Information|
|Teams||Chicago Bears vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Location||Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida|
|Time||Sunday, October 24, 2021; 4:25 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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