Week Five — vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears (4-0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
Date: October 8th, 2020 — 7:20pm, FOX
Location: Chicago, IL — Soldier Field
Getting Tom Brady on a short week is never ideal. In my prediction, the Buccaneers will be coming into this game with a 2-2 record, losing to the Saints and Broncos on the road, while stomping the Chargers and Panthers in Weeks Two and Four.
By this point, the wheels could be beginning to turn. Tom Brady and Bruce Arians will have had a full month together, Rob Gronkowski will have shaken off the rust, and they’ll be coming to town against the Bears team brimming with confidence, thanks to four consecutive victories.
The Buccaneers are a scary team. Last season, they were solid against the pass, and even better against the run. Per their team website, the Buccaneers allowed just 1,181 yards last season, the fewest in team history (if you exclude the 1982 strike-shortened season). I like David Montgomery as much as the next guy, but those aren’t numbers you want to be up against.
The Buccaneers running game wasn’t very good last season. Ronald Jones is solid, and adding Ke’Shawn Vaughn could make a difference. With the lights on bright, I’d expect the Bears to step up to the plate and dominate that matchup. But, the Bears could have their hands full with all the weapons in Tampa Bay. They suffer their first hiccup of the season in a game that I suspect they miss a few opportunities in.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers, 30; Bears, 21
Week Six — at Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Date: October 18th, 2020 — 12:00pm, FOX
Location: Charlotte, NC — Bank of America Stadium
Experts appear to have the Bears somewhere between a few wins shy of a postseason berth and maybe narrowly sneaking in. Games to this degree will make all the difference. Chicago will have had ten days off to prepare for a Panthers team that doesn’t appear to be super impressive heading into 2020.
True to trend, here’s how the Panthers are working out in my prediction: a loss to the Raiders in Week One, back-to-back losses against the Buccaneers and Chargers, a home win over the young Cardinals, and then a road loss to the Falcons. And that’s probably being generous.
The Panthers’ backfield is one worth being excited about. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has some incredible weapons, be it Christian McCaffrey or free agent acquisitions Robby Anderson and Russell Okung.
This defense looks young, though. They drafted safety Kyle Dugger in Round 1, and went on to select all defensive players with their next few picks. This team figures to be rock solid in a year or three, and even have a first-year head coach under the helm. Sifting through potential wins for them this year probably means only considering upsets.
Teddy Bridgewater has fared well against the Bears historically, though, and I expect him to keep this game close in the first half. But, if you remember Matt Forte’s career day against the Panthers in Week 5 of the 2010 season, I’d imagine David Mongomery has a similar sort of performance.
Score Prediction: Bears, 27; Panthers, 11