The Tennessee Titans have a bad taste in their mouths. After losing two straight, they are looking to get back onto the winning side of things versus the Chicago Bears this Sunday.
This AFC vs NFC matchup has a lot to offer. A top NFL offense versus a very talented defense. Also a matchup between two bruising running backs in Derrick Henry and David Montgomery.
Let’s take a look at this contest in depth.
THE PAST: TROUBLING TRENDS
The Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears’ series is tied at six games a piece through twelve games. That includes Houston Oilers history as well.
In the “Titans” era, they are 2-2 versus the Bears. The home team has lost each time since 2004, with the Titans being the most recent winner by a score of 27-21 in Chicago.
The last time these two teams faced off in Nashville, the Titans took a beating. They lost 51-20 in a game that saw Jay Cutler throw three touchdown passes and Matt Forte rush for 103 yards.
Throughout its entire history, Tennessee Titans only home wins over the Chicago Bears have come in 1977 and 1992. Safe to say, the Bears have a second home in Nashville, Tennessee.
On the flip side, the Bears have only beaten the Titans twice in Chicago since 1973, so it’s not all Bears dominance. However, bad news for the Titans, this Sunday’s game is in Nashville.
THE PRESENT: INJURIES AND DEFENSE
The Tennessee Titans come in at 5-2. Usually, 5-2 would have fans booking their Super Bowl tickets, but Titans fans are not too thrilled. Their team has lost two in a row, one to the Steelers and another to the Bengals, after a 5-0 start.
The Titans could potentially be without Jadeveon Clowney and Adoree Jackson for this Sunday, and the Titans will be missing punter Brett Kern and receiver Adam Humphries.
#Titans list WR Adam Humphries and P Brett Kern as out.
OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) and CB Tye Smith (shoulder) are questionable. Clowney has not practiced all week.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) November 6, 2020
Humphries is a great third down receiver and a reliable target for Ryan Tannehill. His consistent production will be missed on offense versus a good Bears defense. Kern is one of the best punters in the NFL and has the ability to flip the field.
As for Clowney, he hasn’t done much this season, but his presence alone is enough to affect quarterbacks. The Titans hope he can play versus a Bears offensive line that is down a few starters.
Let’s dive into the Bears, which has the 12th best defense in the NFL. Their pass defense is 12th in the league, allowing 228.5 yards per game. Their rush defense is 16th, allowing 120 yards per game.
The Bears have the best red zone and third down defense in the NFL. They are allowing a 29.8% conversion rate on third downs. The Titans offensive third down rating is 7th-best in the NFL, converting on 47.6% of their tries.
The Titans have the worst third down defense in the NFL allowing conversions at a rate of 61.9%. Fortunately for the Titans, they are facing a team that has the worst third down conversion percentage on offense, ranked 31st in the NFL at 34.9%.
Having good defensive numbers is great news for Chicago though, because their 29th ranked offense is facing a defense that is 22nd in the NFL and potentially missing key players.
The Bears are in good position to exploit a abysmal defense while holding a top offense to minimal production.
THE FUTURE: BEATING CHICAGO
The Tennessee Titans are seeing a watered-down version of the matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers came in with a great defense, and a decent offense.
The Bears are not much different. Although their offense ranks near the bottom of the NFL, they still have the talent to exploit a lackluster Titans secondary.
If the Titans want to win this game, they will need to keep Allen Robinson in check. Nick Foles has a good deep ball and can make the Titans pay.
Two other players to keep in check is Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney. Malcolm Butler, who has done a great job as of late, will likely be placed on Robinson. That means Miller and Mooney will have exploitable matchups.
The Titans will need the defensive backs on those receivers to step up big.
The Bears defense may be good, but it’s exploitable. The Titans will need to utilize Derrick Henry to try and stay on the field. The Bears are allowing an average of 4.3 rushing yards per carry.
With that, the Titans should have the ability to control the time of possession. They’ll need to take advantage of that if they want to win this game.
Utilize Henry, and let Ryan Tannehill do what he does best in the play-action game. If that goes well, the Titans should leave Nissan Stadium with a win.
The fact that the Tennessee Titans have two wins in 43 years at home versus the Bears is discouraging. But, today’s team is special at home. The Titans will need to rely on their superstars in this game if they want to come out victorious and avoid a three game losing skid.
Featured images by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports and Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports