Chicago Bears vs Tennessee Titans: prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
The Chicago Bears host the Tennessee Titans and QB Marcus Mariota this Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The Chicago Bears host the Tennessee Titans and QB Marcus Mariota this Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Chicago Bears (2-8) vs Tennessee Titans (5-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Soldier Field, Chicago. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.


SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Bears lead the series, 6-5. The Bears won the last game in Tennessee, 51-20. All but one of the Titans' wins in the series came when they were still the Houston Oilers.

GAMEDATE: 11/27/16

KEYS TO THE GAME: Matt Barkley is the likely starting QB after Jay Cutler suffered a right shoulder injury last week. Cutler isn't practicing and was listed doubtful, but coach John Fox at least likes the fact it might not be the end of the line for the veteran starter.

"You know, in my experience with Jay, he's a tough son of a gun," Fox said. "So he doesn't go typical of the lengths people put into it as far as weeks and whatnot. So, you know, right now he is day to day."


Earlier media reports called it a season-ending labrum injury. While Fox was vague on the injury's severity and whether it requires surgery, he does know it's possible Cutler could play again this year.

"It's not season-ending, contrary to the reports you heard," Fox said.

Barkley signed with the Bears' practice squad Sept. 4, then became active when Cutler suffered a thumb sprain against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.

The Titans want to get back to running the football, something they may need even more at windy Soldier Field, where the passing game becomes tricky at times. That means a healthy dose of RBs DeMarco Murray and perhaps getting Derrick Henry going again after he disappeared in the past couple of his weeks.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota needs just two more TD passes to move into fourth place on the team's season list. He has 23 in 11 games.


--Titans C Ben Jones vs. Bears NT Eddie Goldman. Goldman missed last week's game with an ankle injury and is uncertain he will be ready. If not, C.J. Wilson will replace him. Either way, the Titans have an edge. Jones, the former Texans center who signed in free agency, has been a key reason for the Tennessee rushing offense ranking third. Goldman's ability to either get into a gap or play two-gap style makes him versatile and a run stuffer, but the injury status favors the Titans.


--Bears WR Eddie Royal vs. Titans CB Brice McCain. Royal was targeted only three times in the last two games and has three catches. McCain has two interceptions and six pass breakups. Royal has been either ignored or unable to get open since being bothered by a toe injury. He will be needed this week because the areas over the middle are where Matt Barkley will need to look when the Titans come with the blitz -- and they can be expected to do that often. The tight end is supposed to be a quarterback's best friend; and, with Zach Miller now lost for the year, expect the slot receiver to provide that security blanket. McCain left last week's game with a minor injury but returned, so he's expected to play.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Titans OL Dennis Kelly. For two weeks in a row, the Titans have turned to Kelly to finish a game -- Taylor Lewan was ejected against Green Bay and injured against the Colts. Lewan is day-to-day with a sprained left knee, so Kelly could start Sunday if Lewan is unable to go. The Titans are still holding out hope that Lewan will play. If he does, the Titans have a bye week next week which would give him two weeks of rest.


INJURY REPORT: Tennessee -- Out: TE Phillip Supernaw (concussion). Questionable: S Daimion Stafford (hamstring). Chicago -- Out: LB Leonard Floyd (concussion). Doubtful: QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder), G Josh Sitton (ankle). Questionable: CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle), LB Christian Jones (ankle, back), WR Eddie Royal (toe), DE Mitch Unrein (back).

FAST FACTS: Titans QB Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes in a loss last week -- his seventh straight game with multiple touchdown passes. It's the longest active streak in the NFL and also a franchise record -- Warren Moon threw multiple TD passes in six straight games in 1987. ... Bears RB Jordan Howard is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, second in the NFL among players with at least 100 attempts; Miami's Jay Ajayi is at 5.6. Howard is on pace to become the first Bears rookie since Gale Sayers in 1965 to average over 5.0 yards per carry on at least 100 attempts.

PREDICTION: Barkley may find himself on a team with less talent than some of his USC squads, but here's wishing him luck. Mariota is putting together a season that will feed the debate over who should have been drafted No. 1 overall in 2015.


OUR PICK: Titans, 28-21.

--Frank Cooney

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