Florida Football Friday (Thursday Edition): Bucs Aim For Fourth Straight Win vs. Bears

by Mike Ferguson
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Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The NFL’s oldest quarterback and one of the youngest will square off this weekend at Raymond James Stadium as the Chicago Bears visit the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fresh off a Thursday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay arrives with a record of 5-1. The Buccaneers have won three straight.

Captaining the ship is the ageless Tom Brady, who leads the NFL in passing yards with 2,064. Brady has a plethora of talent around him. Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are all on pace to finish with 1,000 yards receiving.

On the other side, rookie quarterback Justin Fields will try to help the 3-3 Chicago Bears bounce back from a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Offensively, Chicago averages the fewest yards per game in the NFL. Only the New York Jets and Houston Texans average fewer points.

Defensively however, the Bears rank in the top 10 in the NFL in both scoring and total defense. Linebacker Roquan Smith is among the NFL’s leading tacklers. Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack have combined for 11.5 sacks this season, making the Bears the only team in the NFL with two players in the top 10 in that category.

The Buccaneers also rank in the top 10 in total defense. Shaquil Barrett leads the Tampa Bay pass rush. Devin White and Lavonte David are also very good at the linebacker position.

The Bucs may be coming off a Thursday night victory, but Chicago beat them last season on a Thursday night at Soldier Field, 20-19. Sunday’s contest begins at 4:25 p.m. ET and airs on FOX.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 31, Chicago 17

Other Games Across the State

College Football

Florida Atlantic (3-3) at Charlotte (4-2)
Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

In what could be a pivotal Conference USA East showdown, Florida Atlantic travels to Charlotte. The 49ers are the last remaining undefeated team in the division. FAU has won the last two in the series.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 27, Charlotte 25

Memphis (4-3) at UCF (3-3)
Friday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

UCF is coming off its worst loss in more than five years, but the Knights are a different team at home. Memphis possesses one of the American Athletic Conference’s most potent offenses and rallied from 21 points down to beat UCF last season.
Prediction: Memphis 34, UCF 28

Massachusetts (1-5) at Florida State (2-4)
Saturday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

After an 0-4 start, Florida State has won back-to-back games for the first time since 2019. The Seminoles have not won three in a row since 2017. Massachusetts snapped a 16-game losing streak with a win over Connecticut its last time out.
Prediction: Florida State 48, Massachusetts 17

Western Kentucky (2-4) at Florida International (1-5)
Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Since a season-opening win over Long Island, Florida International has lost five straight games. Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe leads the nation in passing yards per game and touchdown passes.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 48, Florida International 32


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Temple (3-3) at South Florida (1-5)
Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

South Florida nearly got off the schneid against FBS competition last week, but lost a heartbreaker to Tulsa. The Bulls have lost 17 straight games to FBS opponents, but are a favorite this week. Temple’s three losses this season have come by an average of more than 40 points.
Prediction: Temple 38, South Florida 37

No. 18 NC State (5-1) at Miami (2-4)
Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

NC is one of just three ACC teams still undefeated in conference play. Miami has lost heartbreakers in each of the last two weeks by a combined five points. The Hurricanes won a shootout last season in Raleigh, 44-41.
Prediction: NC State 34, Miami 27

NFL

Atlanta Falcons (2-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-5)
Sunday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. ET

The Miami Dolphins are on a 5-game losing streak and allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to snap a 20-game losing streak last week in London. Miami is still looking for its first home win. The Dolphins have won the last two meetings against the Atlanta Falcons.
Prediction: Miami 27, Atlanta 24

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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