Four questions as the Bears prepare to play the Buccaneers for the fifth season in a row, despite not being in the same division:
Did you see Mack?
How many players does it take to block outside linebacker Khalil Mack? It’s like the old Tootsie Pop commercial: One? Two? Three?
When defensive end Akiem Hicks forced a fumble the Cardinals recovered in the second quarter Sunday, Mack was being triple-teamed — by the right guard, the right tackle and a running back.
‘‘I still want to be able to make an impact,’’ Mack said this week. ‘‘I want to make an impact on those plays, even if it is three, two or one dude.’’
Will he see triple-teams Sunday? While the Cardinals started their backup right tackle, the Buccaneers will send out starter Demar Dotson, who was limited earlier in the week by a knee injury.
Are fumbles just dumb luck?
The Bears lead the NFL with seven forced fumbles.
‘‘That’s not a lucky deal,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. ‘‘That’s something that I give our defensive coaches a lot of credit for.’’
Here’s one idea the defensive coaches have implemented: The Bears have a football on a stand that they reposition around Halas Hall — from the indoor Walter Payton Center to the hallways to the cafeteria. Defensive players are told to whack at it when they pass by. Offensive players are supposed to grab it to practice ball security.
‘‘It’s magic,’’ a joking Nagy said. ‘‘It just kind of moves around on its own. . . . It’s crazy. When you go to bed and wake up in the morning, it’s somewhere else. So there’s somebody moving it, but I don’t know who.’’
Halftime hot tip
The Bears, who are a field-goal favorite Sunday, have failed to cover the point spread at home only three times in their last 14 games at Soldier Field.
The last time the Bears won a third game in a row was Sept. 22, 2013, a 40-23 victory on ‘‘Sunday Night Football’’ in Pittsburgh. How long ago does it feel? Only two of the Bears’ starting 11 defenders that night — ageless Julius Peppers and injured Bucs safety Chris Conte — are still active players.
Guard Kyle Long and cornerback Sherrick McManis are the only two Bears from that game left on the roster.
‘‘I kind of had a false sense of security with the NFL and the reality of how tough each win is,’’ Long said.
Long knows a victory before the Week 5 bye would do wonders for the Bears’ momentum.
‘‘I’m really a big believer in not looking at the standings,’’ Long said. ‘‘It’s early in the season. But we got a win this past week, and we’ve got an opportunity to get another one at home at Soldier Field in front of our fans. Coming off a win is a lot better than coming off a loss.’’
What about Jordan Howard?
Last season against the Bucs, Howard ran seven times for nine yards and left Raymond James Stadium with his right shoulder in a sling.
The Bears will need to lean on him more this time around against a Bucs defense that allows 70.7 rushing yards per game, the third-fewest in the league.
The Bears still are trying to determine where Howard fits in their offense. He has averaged 2.5 yards per carry in each of the last two games after averaging 5.5 against the Packers.
‘‘For us, when we’re scheming, we have so many great weapons on this offense that we’re massaging right now, figuring out how we’re going to use them all,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And he’s one of them.’’