DaBearsBlog - myself and Noah - are traveling to Nashville this weekend Bears vs. Titans and staying at the swanky hotel seen above. We are arriving with a mission: good food, great drink and the world's best Honky-Tonkin'. We'll be focused and driven. Will the Bears? I think so.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I was completely wrong about the Bears last Sunday against the Panthers. They were flat and lifeless. But I think a day or two of watching that tape will humble all 53 men on the roster and provide Lovie Smith with the kind of motivational tools a head coach often requires to inspire a good team mid-season.
- It is Music City! And no football organization is responsible for sweeter music.
Matt Hasselbeck's last four starts against Chicago:
- 2010 Postseason: 24-46, 258 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
- 2010: 25-40, 242 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
- 2007: 30-44, 337 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
- 2006 Postseason: 18-33, 195 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Chris Johnson's only game against a Lovie Smith defense:
- 2008: 14 carries, 8 yards, 0 confidence
Rankings for the Tennessee Titans:
- Titans have the league's worst defense in terms of total yardage AND points, although Buffalo allows slightly more PPG.
- Titans are 24th in yards per game on offense and 18th in points per game. They again they have also scored points like this:
- Tennessee has only eleven sacks on the season (even after attaining the Phil Emery-desired Kamerion Wimbley) so this should be a game the Bears are able to give Jay Cutler a decent enough pocket to look down the field. If they do I expect him to get the ball to Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett with relative ease.
- Tennessee is also among the league's worst run stopping defenses. Lovie Smith is Mr. Off the Bus Running and he can't be pleased with the way Tice/Cutler maneuvered away from Matt Forte Sunday. I expect the Double Deuce to have a big afternoon.
- Tennessee have receivers of quality and we've seen Matt Hasselbeck turn trash into trophies against the Bears. (Cough, Mike Williams, Cough) Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt can each play and will be rough for the Bears to handle on the outside.
- I don't know if Jared Cook's trade demands will influence his play on-field but he could prove a tricky match-up for the center of the Bears defense, especially if Brian Urlacher is limited in space.
- Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. If the Bears can pressure Hasselbeck consistently they will win the game. He lacks the mobility to extend plays and beat the Bears with improvisation. They need that consistency to develop opposite Julius Peppers on the outside from either Izzy, Woot or (I'd prefer) a more-involved Shea McClellin.
- Thrive: Devin Hester. The criticism of him has now left the receiver world and engulfed the return game. I think he hears it and breaks one against Tennessee.
- Survive: Me, Noah. We have a poor track record at Bears games together and we need to break the streak. (Our last three as a pair: 2006 blowout loss at home to Joey Harrington, the blizzard blowout loss to New England, the 40-sack debacle in the Meadowlands.)
CHRIS JOHNSON & RUNNING BACKS GETTING PAID
I found myself in the middle of the Matt Forte contract debate this summer, with former Bears Jason McKie and Desmond Clark both taking an opportunity to jab my opinions on the Twitter machine. My points were simple: (1) Forte was, in fact, a great running back but...(2) great running backs are no longer worth the cap space they once were.
Look at the teams with HUGE money tied up in the running back position. Carolina has two such backs, one win and neither back has performed even moderately well this season. (The team is desperately trying to deal DeAngelo Williams.) Steven Jackson signed for more than double what Forte signed and has been on the field for about half the snaps since he put pen to paper. Trent Richardson warranted a top five selection in the draft and has not looked the part. Adrian Peterson, as I've written many times, is the exception because he is capable of scoring on every single play from scrimmage and may very well be one of the greatest running backs to ever live.
Enter Chris Johnson. CJ looked like the most explosive young player in the game. Tennessee gave him an $80+million deal (with a boatload guaranteed) after an extensive hold out. CJ has rewarded them by looking like a player who no longer interested in contact sports; wrapping up the ball AND his body prior to entering the atmosphere of a defender's planet. CJ's contract is Jason Bay. It's ARod. It was the last of a dying breed.
What the Bears (and to a lesser extent the Texans and Seahawks) did was re-set the marketplace for the running back position. And you'll see that play out as Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice enter the coming off-season.
I'm going to take a cautious approach. I believe the Bears could easily walk out of Nashville with a 25-30 point victory and charge into the more-difficult second half of the year. But I could also see Matt Hasselbeck playing error free football, moving the chains and keeping the Titans in it all four quarters. I'll go with the latter.
Chicago Bears 23, Tennessee Titans 16