2011 International Series game
The NFL International Series game is back. For the fifth consecutive year, the NFL is bringing a regular season game to London as the Chicago Bears prepare to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley tomorrow. This will be the first time that two NFC teams will be competing in the game and both the Bears and Bucs are looking to leave Wembley with a victory to continue their respective Playoff expectations.
The Chicago Bears will be the designated visiting team for this game but it’s not the first time the Bears have come to Wembley. The Bears played a preseason game at Wembley in the 1986 American Bowl. This game came just a year after the Bears’ only Super Bowl triumph when they had the likes of Walter Payton, Jim McMahon and William “Refrigerator” Perry leading the team.
The modern day Bears haven’t been as prestigious as their legendary predecessors, with their only Super Bowl appearance since 1985 coming in 2006 when they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bears finished 11-5 last season and lost to rivals and eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The Bears are currently 3-3 this season and are led by their veteran Defense and Quarterback Jay Cutler.
Much has been made of their late arrival in London on Thursday night, which gives the team just two days to adjust to the conditions and time-difference before they play on Sunday. Head Coach Lovie Smith defended the decision and stated he wanted his team to have a normal week of Practice in Chicago before make the long trip to London.
In contrast to the Bears, the Bucs have been in London all week as they look to have a better performance in this game than they did the last time they played at Wembley. In the 2009 International Series Game, the Bucs lost 35-7 against the New England Patriots and were heavily criticised for their performance. The Bucs looked sluggish and jet-lagged as they struggled to adjust to the conditions at Wembley. The Bucs arrived in London just two days before that game in 09 and look to have changed their strategy as they arrived in London six days in advance for this game.
Since that poor performance in 09 things have changed for the Bucs. Raheem Morris is the youngest Head Coach in the league and the 35-year old has made drastic changes to the Bucs Roster with just twenty players remaining from the last time the Bucs were in London. The youngest team in the league is led by Quarterback Josh Freeman who played his NFL game in that defeat in 09 and hasn’t looked back since. Freeman led the team to a 10-6 record last season and looks to be one of the most promising young Quarterbacks in the league.
The Bucs are well known to many non-NFL fans because of their owner Malcolm Glazer. Glazer also owns Manchester United who are the most valuable sports team in the world, valued at $1.86 billion by Forbes magazine. The Bucs have won one Super Bowl under Glazer’s ownership in 2002, but that seems to be a distant memory to Bucs fans as Head Coach Jon Gruden and key players such as Warren Sapp have now left the Franchise.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Now on to the prediction. I see this game coming down to turnovers and as both Quarterbacks have been interception prone in the past, I think whichever Quarterback can keep control of the ball and not throw interceptions will led his team to victory. If this is the case, I would back to Bucs to win this game as Jay Cutler throws too many interceptions and the Bucs Defense is coming off last week’s game against the New Orleans Saints when they had 3 interceptions. Although the Bucs will be missing their leading Rusher LeGarrette Blount with an injury, I think the Bucs Offense has just enough to win this game. Bears17 Bucs24
Players to watch out for: Bears- Running Back Matt Forte, Wide Receiver Devin Hester, Defensive End Julius Peppers.
Players to watch out for: Bucs- Quarterback Josh Freeman, Wide Receiver Mike Williams, Tight End Kellen Winslow.
So there is the preview and prediction, hope everyone enjoys the big game.