Titans look to halt skid against Bears

Titan's Keys

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) gives a pep talk to teammates before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears meet Sunday in Nashville with both teams looking to end a two game losing streak.

After starting the season 5-0 the Titans lost to the Steelers at Nissan Stadium and then last week in Cincinnati. In those two losses the Titans have defense has had some significant struggles especially on third down. Teams are converting over 61% of the time against the Titans and that is a number that has to go down against a struggling Bears offense.

The Bears offense is 31st in the league in converting 3rd downs at 34.9%, so someone looks like they are going to get healthy in this one.

Health could be a key for both teams. The Bears are not healthy at all up front and could be down as many as four starters on the offensive line. Protecting Nick Foles has not been easy even when they have been healthy, Chicago has surrendered 20 sacks this season with Foles going down 13 times since taking over for Mitchell Trubisky.

The Titans pass rush though has not shown the ability to pressure much of anyone this season. Tennessee has only seven sacks in seven games. That ranks next to last in the NFL and it led to a major shakeup this week with the team waiving Vic Beasley after signing him to a $9.5-million contract in free agency.

Jadeveon Clowney is also a game time decision for the Titans with a knee injury leaving them extremely thin at outside linebacker. After starting the season with Clowney, Beasley, Harold Landry and Kamalei Correa at outside linebacker the Titans are down to just Landry with Derick Roberson, an undrafted free agent last season, likely the next man up for Tennessee.

If the Titans can not get any pressure the Bears Allen Robinson and rookie Darnell Mooney can make the big play in the passing game. Mooney has legitimate 4.3 speed and is coming along in the Bears’ offense.

The other side of the ball though is a completely situation where the Titans offense and Bears defense are both rolling this season. Led by Khalil Mack (6.5 sacks), Roquan Smith (71 tackles) and Akiem Hicks (9 tackles for loss) the Bears are a major challenge up front and they might be just as good in the secondary with Kyle Fuller and rookie Jaylon Johnson at cornerback and safety Eddie Jackson. Fuller is playing some of the best football of his career and Johnson already has 10 passes defended in his first eight NFL games.

The Bears can bring the pressure and that could once again take Titans tight end Jonnu Smith out of the passing attack so he can stay in and help tackles Ty Sambrailo and Dennis Kelly pass protect on the edges. Sambrailo is in for the injured Taylor Lewan and Kelly has missed multiple practices the last two weeks with a knee injury.

Derrick Henry could be the x-factor for the Titans though, he is having another monster season and the Bears have shown they can be run on. Chicago is giving up 120 yards rushing a game and they have surrendered 6 rushing touchdowns.

For the Titans, Henry is rolling along leading the NFL with 775 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns in only 7 games. Henry is on pace to top 1,700 yards this season which would surpass his total last season when he led the NFL with 1,540 yards.

NFL Rushing Leaders

  1. Derrick Henry – 775 yards (4.8 per carry)
  2. Dalvin Cook – 652 yards (5.3 per carry)
  3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 572 yards (4.7 per carry)

If the Titans can continue to pound Henry it could set up Corey Davis or AJ Brown for big strikes down the field, both are off to solid starts this season. Davis leads the Titans in receptions (29) and yards (369), while Brown leads them with 5 receiving touchdowns.

This is a clear matchup of strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness and we will see who’s good is really good and who’s bad is really bad.

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