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Opponent breakdown: Buccaneers


The Bears (5-9) take their final road trip of the season, heading down to Florida to take on some familiar faces with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8). Here's a breakdown of Chicago's Week 16 opponent:

What's new: No. 1 overall draft picks don't always have the greatest track record as rookies, especially quarterbacks. Nor do former Heisman Trophy winners. This season with the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston is proving both of those myths wrong. Winston has started all 14 games for Tampa Bay as a rookie, and has done fairly well. His 3,422 yards and 20 touchdown passes both rank in the top 16 of quarterbacks this season. The quarterback also has five rushing touchdowns, showing the versatility that made him such a highly-regarded prospect in the first place.

What's old: Running back Doug Martin burst on the scene as a rookie in 2012, finishing fifth in the NFL with 1,454 rushing yards. But then he fell off. Injuries and poor play resulted in consecutive poor seasons for the Bucs back. In both 2013 and '14, he failed to exceed 500 rushing yards. Tampa Bay added some running back depth in the offseason, because they were unsure what Martin would provide. Turns out, he could provide his old self. In 2015, he's gained 1,305 yards - second-most in the NFL - and has been a valuable piece to the Tampa attack.

Last time out: Facing the Rams last Thursday, the Bucs fell behind early and just ran out of time while coming back, eventually losing 31-23. Tampa scored 17 points in the fourth quarter but only six in the game's first 45 minutes. Winston threw for 363 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it was not enough. The Buccaneers had trouble stopping big plays, as St. Louis had three plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or longer, as well as a 102-yard kickoff return.

Series history: Chicago and Tampa Bay used to be old NFC Central rivals, competing in the same division from 1977-2001. The Bears hold a 37-18 edge in the all-time series, including a 21-13 victory last season at Soldier Field in the most recent matchup between the teams.

Injury report: The largest absence from the Tampa Bay lineup is not an injured player but rather a suspended one. Linebacker Kwon Alexander - second on the team with 93 tackles - will miss Sunday's matchup while serving a four-game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson also could miss the matchup against the Bears as he rehabs from a knee injury. Jackson suffered the injury early in Week 14, forcing him to miss last Thursday's game.

Schemes and tendencies: The defensive schemes of Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith are quite familiar to Bears fans. Smith coached the Bears from 2004-2012, and one thing he always preached was taking the ball away. During those nine seasons, the Bears finished in the top eight in the NFL in takeaways six times, including twice (2006 and 2012) where they ranked first. This year's Tampa Bay team has not grasped all the ways of Smith's teachings, however. The Bucs currently rank right in the middle of the pack with 21 takeaways on the year (11 interceptions and 10 fumbles recovered). Tampa has forced just one turnover total in its past four games.

Did you know?: With two games to go, Winston is within striking distance of some history. He ranks sixth all-time in NFL history for the most passing touchdowns and passing yards by a rookie quarterback. His 20 TDs is just six behind the all-time leader, Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Seattle's Russell Wilson, each of whom threw 26 during their debut seasons. He's less likely to catch the yardage leader, Andrew Luck of the Colts, who threw for 4,374 yards in 2013. Winston is currently at 3,422 yards.

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