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FORMER NFC NORTH FOES RENEW THEIR RIVALRY ACROSS THE POND WHEN CHICAGO AND TAMPA BAY MEET SUNDAY AT WEMBLEY STADIUM IN LONDON, ENGLAND.
Thu, 20 Oct 2011 05:17 PM EDT

CHICAGO BEARS (3-3)

vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-2)

Wembley Stadium – London, England
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Chicago -1.5, Total: 43.5

Former NFC North foes renew their rivalry across the pond when Chicago and Tampa Bay meet Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Football odds.

Both teams put together impressive home wins last week, as the Bears crushed the Vikings and the Bucs edged the surging Saints. Tampa Bay has been playing up or down to the level of their opponents all year, and considering its jet-lagged blowout loss in San Francisco in Week 5, a trip to London doesn’t necessarily bode well for them. The Bears tend to surprise due to their superior defense and Devin Hester-led special teams, but it’s the fact that the Bucs don’t have the talent to exploit their biggest weakness—the offensive line—that bodes well for CHICAGO to win this game.

This three-star FoxSheets trend also supports the Bears:

Play Against – Any team (TAMPA BAY) – off an upset win as a home underdog, with a winning record on the season. (130-70 since 1983.) (65%, +53 units. Rating = 3*). Football spreads.

The Bears (2-4 ATS) have been highly inconsistent this year, which may have a lot to do with the off-field issues with this team. LB Lance Briggs and RB Matt Forte are still unhappy with their contract situations, and S Chris Harris demanded a trade after he was benched last week. In its three victories, Chicago has scored 103 points, tallying at least 30 in all three contests. But in the three defeats, the Bears have averaged 14.3 PPG and have not surpassed 17 points in any of the losses.

Despite Forte’s unhappiness with Chicago’s front office, he has used that anger to his advantage, leading the NFL with 908 total yards (527 rushing, 381 receiving). QB Jay Cutler is also having a strong season, throwing 74 straight passes without an interception. Although he’s been sacked 19 times (2nd in NFL), Cutler only sustained one sack in last week’s win against Minnesota’s usually strong pass rush. Cutler threw for 267 yards and 2 TD against the Vikings, giving him 246 passing YPG, 8 TD and 4 INT this season.

The young Bucs have some experience in the London game; they lost to the Patriots in Wembley Stadium, 35-7, in 2009. Tampa Bay showed its heart by beating New Orleans just seven days after getting crushed 48-3 in San Francisco. The Bucs will probably not have the services of RB LeGarrette Blount (knee) again this Sunday, but the team still rushed for 117 yards without him last week. Earnest Graham had 109 of those yards on just 17 carries, and he is averaging 6.8 YPC in his past three games. QB Josh Freeman had a tremendous afternoon against New Orleans, throwing for 303 yards and two scores. The defense could get a huge boost this Sunday with the likely return of DT Gerald McCoy who has been out with an ankle injury. Tampa Bay won the last meeting with Chicago in 2008, taking it 27-24 in overtime. Football lines.


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