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Bears-Buccaneers matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week Seven game between the Bears and Buccaneers.

Bears DEs Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije vs. Buccaneers OTs Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood

Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman was not sacked in Week Six against the Saints' defense and his blockers did a great job of picking up blitzers. Keeping Freeman upright has been a high priority, and the Bucs' offensive line has fared well in pass protection. In fact, only three teams have allowed fewer sacks than the Bucs, who have given up nine.

Freeman has the size, athleticism and pocket awareness to shake off arm tackles, but he has been forcing throws more frequently this season and already has as many interceptions as he threw all of last season (six). If Peppers plays to his potential, and he has not done that consistently this season, he should dominate off the edge whether he's matched up with Penn or Trueblood, and could force Freeman to make a costly mistake under duress.

Penn is athletic for his size, but he should struggle against Peppers' combination of quickness and strength. Despite a sprained MCL in his left knee, Peppers made two sacks Sunday night vs. the Vikings and the Bears need him to be a consistent presence. Coordinator Rod Marinelli could flip Peppers and Idonije at times to get Peppers matched up against Trueblood, a physical player with a mean streak and heavy feet who will struggle against speed.

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