Dangerous Bucs pose challenge to Bears

In a matchup of stark contrasts, Tampa Bay brings its explosive offense to the lakefront Sunday  to challenge a stout Chicago Bears defense.

The Bears, 2-1 and surprise leaders in the NFC North, are seeking to finish the first quarter strong but will be undermanned.

Already ruled out are CB Prince Amukamara and backup corner Marcus Cooper.  Undrafted rookie free agent Kevin Toliver faces a stiff test against speedy veteran DeSean Jackson and big-bodied wideout Mike Evans.

The Bucs are coming off their first loss and a short-week, dropping a 30-27 contest to Pittsburgh Monday night.  Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick displayed a hot hand in the Bucs first three games, but threw three interceptions in the Steelers defeat.  Adding to the intrigue is former starter Jamies Winston is eligible to return after a four-game NFL imposed suspension. READ MORE

Bears claw past Cardinals

The Chicago Bears scored 16 consecutive points after falling behind 14-0 in the first half to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 16-14 Sunday afternoon in Glendale, Arizona.  A strong defensive effort led by Khalil Mack keyed a stingy Bears attack unit that turned back numerous Cardinal drives, and K Cody Parkey’s 43-yard field goal propelled the Bears into first place in the NFC North (2-1). Meanwhile, Arizona fell to 0-3.

On an afternoon when the Bears and QB Mitch Trubisky struggled to move the ball with any consistency, Chicago’s prowess on defense turned away Arizona repeatedly in the second half to keep the Bears in the game and eventually allow them to eke out the win. READ MORE

Bears need to be wary of low-flying Cardinals

Heading into Saturday afternoon’s kick with 0-2 Arizona, the 1-1 Chicago Bears can’t afford to let their guard down. The confidence gained from Monday night’s 24-17 victory over Seattle would be short-lived if the Bears stumble against a desperate Arizona club.

The Bears will face a familiar face in Arizona QB Sam Bradford, the former Vikings signal-caller who signed as a free agent in the offseason. Bradford has been effective in recent starts against Chicago, tossing 4 touchdowns and 1 interception in the last 3 matchups. In fact, Bradford’s enjoyed tremendous  success against the NFC North over the last two seasons, throwing for 2,056 pass yards (257 per game), 13 TDs & 3 INTs for 100.1 rating.

Beyond Bradford, Arizona depends heavily on versatile RB David Johnson, still seeking to revert to his pre-injury form. Johnson likes the home cooking, as he’s posted  100+ scrimmage yards in 8 of his past 9 contests in the desert. READ MORE