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Bucs opponent preview: Bears, Week 10

When they play: Week 10 (Nov. 13) in Tampa

2015 record: 6-10

Last time vs. Bucs: Chicago pulled out a 26-21 win in Tampa last year in Week 16, as the Bucs led 14-13 in the fourth, only to see the Bears get 14 straight points, giving up a meaningless Tampa Bay touchdown with 0:01 left. Doug Martin had two costly fumbles in the loss.

2016 outlook: The Bears can certainly improve — John Fox brought in LB Danny Trevathan, a key part of his Broncos defenses — but can they get back to challenging the Packers and Vikings a division contender? The Bears are in danger of finishing last three times in a row, something they haven't done since 1997-2000.

Player to watch: Is this Jay Cutler's last shot to win in Chicago? Wild thing is, Cutler was 27-13 as a starter in Lovie Smith's final three seasons, but he's 16-25 in three years since, despite having 27 more touchdowns than interceptions in those three seasons. Perhaps a healthy WR Kevin White can provide a spark.

Rookie to watch: The Bears thought enough of OLB Leonard Floyd to take him ninth overall, adding to a deep pass rush. At 235 pounds, is he big enough to handle himself against the run? Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is a big believer in the former Georgia standout.

Key matchup: RB Jeremy Langford vs. high expectations. Matt Forte is gone, but is Langford ready to be a primary back? He didn't average 5 yards per carry once in any game last season, and never rushed for 100 yards in a game. But he totaled 503 rushing yards in the last 10 games, consistently good if not great.

Familiar face: Connor Barth, cut loose by the Bucs after they drafted Roberto Aguayo, was signed by the Bears, who cast off longtime kicker Robbie Gould. Barth would be one of three starting kickers from the Bucs' post-draft roster, along with Pat Murray, who should have the Browns' kicking job.

Cool stat: The Bears, so known for forcing takeaways under Lovie Smith's defenses, had just eight interceptions as a team last season, down from 19 in 2014. Kyle Fuller led the team with two, matching the total from all the other defensive backs.

Bucs opponent preview: Bears, Week 10 09/09/16 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2016 9:44pm]
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