It’s an old Black-and-Blue division reunion as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears renew hostilities at the venerable Soldiers Field in Chicago. Each team is a surprising 2-1, and looking to finish the first quarter of the NFL season with a winning record.
Here’s what else to watch out for in Week 4.
Fitzmagic or Fitztragic?
Make no mistake, Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing for his job this week. If the Fitzmagic returns versus Khalil Mack and the Bears on Sunday, Fitz may have a stranglehold on the position for the rest of 2018 (barring injury). If the second quarter Fitztragic returns, Jameis Winston will be your starter in Atlanta in Week 6.
So can Fitz and the offense hold up against a very good Chicago defense on the road?
Can the Bucs Pass Defense Stop ANYBODY?
Okay, so you’re facing two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, plus the Super Bowl MVP from last season, Nick Foles and you’re playing with three rookies getting extensive playing time in the secondary, it’s not surprising the Bucs have struggled. This week they get the neophyte Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who has thrown for 300 yds just once in his NFL career (15 starts) and has thrown for more than 1 TD pass just once in his NFL Career (week 2 against Seattle). It’s pretty simple – if the Bucs can’t keep Trubisky under control, it’s going to be a very long season on defense, folks, and Mike Smith should start updating his resume.
Since Jon Gruden made that franchise wrecking move of trading Khalil Mack to Chicago, the All-Pro has completely assaulted the NFL, recording a sack and fumble in each of the first three games of the season and is tied for the league lead in sacks with 4 in 3 games.
Demar Dotson gets the tough assignment to take on the amazing Mack, and Dot is no slouch himself, but for any lineman, it’s a tough assignment. Tampa Bay will need to keep Mack and his compatriots off their quarterback if they want to win.
Get to 3-1
Barring another mind-numbing tie, one of these two teams will walk off the field at 3-1 on the season. It’s a huge difference. 63% of the teams that start the season 3-1, go on to make the playoffs while only 36% of the teams that start the season 2-2 get to January football.
The Bucs haven’t been 3-1 in the first quarter of the season since 2011, but that was the Raheem Morris collapse season that ended his era as Bucs coach.
So yes, a huge game for both teams, but especially the Bucs. Tampa Bay has been 3-1 11 times in franchise history and in 8 of those 11 seasons, they finished with a winning record and in 6 made the playoffs.