The Sun-Times experts make their picks for Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago, and it doesn’t look good for the former Bears coach.
The Bears are giving up a league-high 29 points a game. The Buccaneers are allowing an average of 27.9 points, third highest. Tampa Bay’s Josh McCown, the former Bear, should have a field day, provided Marc Trestman coaches him. Jay Cutler should have a field day, provided Trestman doesn’t coach him. Wait, I’m confused. Season: 4-6
Winning two in a row at home shouldn’t be impossible. It still feels as if the Bears offense hasn’t put together a complete show. How about taking advantage of a Lovie defense, for once? If this game isn’t enough to get Trestman’s quarterback whispering into full screech, nothing is. Season: 5-5
ADAM L. JAHNS
Here’s thinking the Bucs’ defense still is searching for itself and it gets lost in the buildup to the “Lovie Bowl.” With coach Marc Trestman at his back, quarterback Jay Cutler comes out on fire in this one to spite Lovie Smith. Lance Briggs, meanwhile, won’t let Smith down and will play like the Hall-of-Famer he can be, leading another spirited effort by the defense. Old friend Josh McCown will have some success, but Cutler will keep him and his big receivers off the field. Season: 3-7
Lovie Smith will have the Buccaneers fired up to beat the organization that fired him. And his defense won’t play into the Bears’ hands like the Vikings did. But he still has a 2-8 team that is 29th in total offense and 27th in total defense. It won’t be easy, but the resurgent Bears will find a way. Season: 6-4
The symbolism of Sunday’s game is huge for Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler, who will forever be compared to Lovie Smith and Josh McCown otherwise. Luckily, the Bears draw one of the league’s worst offenses — only four teams average fewer yards — and a franchise that’s historically impotent in cold weather. Put that together, and it spells “winning streak.” Season: 4-6
Last week the Bears proved they are still capable of beating teams they should and the Bucs are another one that falls into that category. But as we saw with the Vikings its never easy for these Bears. Josh McCown has enough to worry about just trying to play quarterback no matter who the opponent is but a win here would clearly be special for Lovie Smith regardless of what he says. Smith will do everything he can to have the Bucs ready and this will be dicey of the Bears don’t play better than last week. I suspect the improvement will be just enough. Season: 5-5