Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Buccaneers

USA Today

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Buccaneers

1. Connect on deep passes. As it is every week, this is the easiest way to unlock things for Mitch Trubisky and the Bears’ offense. Tampa Bay’s defense allowed 7.9 yards per pass play (29th in the NFL) and, on average, three passing plays fo 25 or more yards in their first three games. On the flip side of that is the Bucs allowed 3.6 yards per rush attempt and only one rushing play of 25 or more yards against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. The best way for Trubisky to get the Bucs’ defense to back off is to connect an early deep ball, and then let Jordan Howard take advantage of a defense that can’t cheat in the box. 

2. Finish drives in the end zone. In lieu of hitting those deep shots, the Bears’ offense has focused this week on taking advantage of its trips to the red zone. The Bears rank second in average time of possession (34:42) but 27th in red zone touchdown percentage (40 percent). The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have allowed touchdowns on 88.9 percent of their opponents’ trips to the red zone. So if the Bears are able to manage some sustained drives that get inside the 20, getting those into the end zone instead of relying on Cody Parkey to hit a chip-shot field goal will be critical. 

3. Keep the Bucs’ receivers in front of you. Without Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, who are both out with hamstring injuries, undrafted rookie Kevin Toliver will be tested plenty on Sunday. Tampa Bay’s trio of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin combined for 63 catches, 850 yards and nine touchdowns in their first three games, while Evans (51 yards) and Jackson (75 yards) both have explosive plays on their resumes. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio liked Toliver’s ability to keep receivers in front of him last week against Arizona, but he bit on a Christian Kirk double move that led to a 32-yard gain on third down. A good way to mitigate this potential issue, though: Put pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick (or Jameis Winston). 

Prediction: Bears 20, Buccaneers 16. We’ll give the Bears a defensive touchdown here based on Khalil Mack/Akiem Hicks’ ability to pressure the quarterback, and that the Bears are a Mack offsides penalty away from three consecutive weeks with a defensive score. The Bears’ defense does a good job of bending but not breaking against a good Tampa Bay offense, which is sufficient enough to buoy an offense that still hasn’t found its footing yet. 

Bears sign LB Devante Bond to replace Roquan Smith on active roster

Bears sign LB Devante Bond to replace Roquan Smith on active roster

The loss of Roquan Smith to injured reserve on Monday (torn pec) created an obvious need for the Bears at linebacker on the depth chart.

Fellow starter Danny Trevathan will likely miss Sunday's game against the Packers as he continues to rehab his elbow injury, which leaves little depth behind Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis, the reserves-turned-starters in Week 15.

As a result, Chicago signed former Buccaneers linebacker Devante Bond on Monday.

Bond, 26, was selected by Tampa Bay in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft after a strong career at Oklahoma and has six starts on his resume over the last three years. He was released by the Buccaneers on October 19 after being suspended by the NFL for four weeks for violating the league's PED policy. 

Bond will slide into a reserve role for the Bears.

Allen Robinson's 'Within Reach Foundation' hosts holiday shopping spree for Chicago Youth Centers

Allen Robinson's 'Within Reach Foundation' hosts holiday shopping spree for Chicago Youth Centers

Bears wide receiver has had his best stretch of the season recently, collecting at least 5 receptions and a touchdown in each of his last three games. But Robinson is taking the cake as perhaps the Bears MVP off the field too, as his "Within Reach Foundation" just accomplished an awesome goal in providing quite a great experience for a group of underprivileged youths. 

Robinson's Within Reach Foundation hosted 25 kids from the Chicago Youth Center and gave the kids an excellent experience that started with an early Christmas shopping spree for each kid. Also as a part of the event, each child received football with Robinson's autograph on it and a $150 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods. 

"A lot of kids don't have things under the Christmas tree... being able to do this for kids is fun," stated Robinson. 

The ultimate goal of Robinson's Within Reach Foundation is to positively impact at least 5,000 students by the end of 2020 through their various outreach programs. 

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