The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are finally ready to get their 2017 season started as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 17 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game can be seen in local markets on Fox.
The Bucs are currently listed as 7-point home favorites. That’s up a little after Tampa Bay opened as 5.5-point favorites. The over/under for the game is 43 points. Click here for a full list of Week 2 betting odds and links to game previews.
Bears vs Bucs Game Preview & Betting Odds
After having their Week 1 game delayed by Hurricane Irma, the Bucs are no doubt eager to begin their season. Head coach Dirk Koetter led Tampa to a 9-7 record last season, as the Buccaneers fell just shy of the playoffs. But with Jameis Winston looking like a franchise quarterback and a few more pieces in place, there is great optimism in Tampa Bay with the start of the season upon us.
The Bears, like most teams, got their season started last week, losing to the Falcons 23-17. Chicago played a close game with the defending NFC champions and had a chance take the lead in the dying seconds but fell one play short.
As a silver lining, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon played well, throwing for over 200 yards without turning the ball over. That should be enough to cool any talk of rookie Mitch Trubisky taking his job, at least for now.
These two teams have met in each of the last three years, with the Bears winning two of the three. However, the Bucs took last year’s meeting 36-10. Winston threw for over 300 yards, with tight end Cameron Brate being his top target, making him a player to watch in this year’s game.
Free Pro Football Pick Against the Spread: Bears +7
Expectations for the Bears were low heading into the season, but Chicago looked good in Week 1. The Bucs may be the better team at the end of the season, but I can see the Bears knocking them off this week, or at least keeping it close and beating the spread like they did against the Falcons last week.
In addition to Glennon playing well in Week 1, the Bears also cultivated an effective running game. Diminutive rookie Tarik Cohen turned was a nice complement for Jordan Howard in Chicago’s backfield. Those two combined for 118 yards on 18 carries. As long as the Bears can run the ball like that, some of the pressure will be off Glennon.
Click on the link for more free NFL betting predictions from our experts on staff.
Of course, it’ll be Chicago’s defense that faces the biggest challenge on Sunday. Winston dissected them a year ago and there are even more weapons at his disposal this time around. Brate and Mike Evans have been joined by DeSean Jackson and rookie tight end O.J. Howard, among others.
Defensively, the Bears were able to keep Atlanta’s running game in check last week. But the Falcons did a lot of damage through the air, exposing Chicago’s secondary, which gave up too many big plays. With all the weapons Winston has to throw to, the Bears need to tighten things up in the secondary.
One concern I have for the Bucs in this game is their sharpness. The players had to do a lot of traveling to avoid Hurricane Irma and then return to Tampa afterward. The added time without playing a game and inconsistent practice schedule could also hurt the Bucs, especially on offense. Between that factor and the Bears being a little underrated, I lean toward Chicago to at least beat the spread in this game.