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The Chicago Bears have won four of their last five meetings with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but when they visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, they’re facing a team that has dramatically improved over the last couple of seasons.
Two years ago, the Bucs finished 4-12 and ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense. The 2014 season was even less kind to Tampa Bay, and the Bucs finished with the worst record in the league, earning the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. They used it to select quarterback Jameis Winston, and an offense that averaged fewer than 300 yards per game a season ago is now putting up 374.2 yards per game, good for seventh in the league.
What I would expect is that the Cardinals will now do a lot more substituting to make sure they matchup well with opposing offenses and also maximize the various skill sets of the players set to try to fill in for Mathieu over the next few weeks.
Will that work? I have no idea. Ultimately we all just kind of have to wait and see. I do know that this is a huge blow to a defense which had been playing pretty well of late, even as their offense overwhelmingly garnered most of the attention. I still see the Cardinals as one of the teams to beat in the NFC as we get closer and closer to the playoffs, but I’d be lying if I said I thought for sure they would win their first postseason game this year.
But the Rams hold a 6-8 record, good for third place in the NFC West but not particularly impressive. At one point, they had a five-game losing skid derailing their season, but strong play in the past two games has resulted in a pair of wins. With Case Keenum starting at quarterback, the Rams beat the Detroit Lions, 21-14 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-23. They downed the Buccaneers last week.