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Bears-Buccaneers matchup of the day: Thursday

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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 battle between the Bears and Buccaneers.

Bears RB Matt Forté vs. Buccaneers' run defense

The Bears have been inconsistent running the ball, and the Bucs have also been very up-and-down defending the run. Yet we know the Bears' offense is far more effective when Forté is picking up solid yardage on first and second downs and keeping the Bears in manageable third-down situations.

The Bears have had a lot of success in recent weeks running to the right side, so the left side of the Bucs' defense should be prepared for the Bears to come after it. Forté doesn't have elite speed, but he has a quick burst and can stop and start and change direction to elude defenders.

Tampa Bay's run defense was gashed by the 49ers in Week Five — Frank Gore was highly productive in that game, and San Francisco gained 213 yards on the ground in its 48-3 blowout win — but the Bucs held the Saints to 70 yards on 20 carries in Week Six.

The Bucs' front seven has to tackle well and avoid getting washed out of plays by FB Tyler Clutts and Chicago's offensive linemen, who are gaining confidence after the win over Minnesota, in order to keep the Bears' offense from establishing the ground game.

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