Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Betting Line: TEN -5
The Season Will Be Over Soon
Chicago’s season has escaped them. Midway through the year, a win against division leader Minnesota paired with a bye week gave reason for cheer heading towards the holiday season. Two games later, the joy of Thanksgiving resides in family rather than football as the Bears lost back to back road games. Now just 2-8, Chicago has a final chance against the Tennessee Titans to avoid a no-win November. While the chances of a Wild Card spot dissipate, opportunities for younger players to get NFL game experience continue to arrive. Unfortunately, these have been at the cost of some talented players that have seen their curtains pulled before the final act. For them, the rising sun of 2017 won’t come soon enough.
The Game Should Be Quick, Too
Tennessee has had an up and down year, never winning or losing more than two in a row. Their young talent is getting comfortable in the league and it has allowed for some major improvements. The addition of DeMarco Murray, and later the selection of Derrick Henry, has vastly improved the run game for the Titans.
In 2015, Tennessee ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing offense. They have already surpassed their rushing yards from all of last season, and are only behind Dak & Zeke in Dallas and Shady McCoy & Mike Gillislee in Buffalo. The run defense they face at Soldier Field has been formidable, until the recent absence of DE Mitch Unrein and NTs Eddie Goldman and Will Sutton. Now, Chicago has lost LB Jerrell Freeman to a PED suspension and Leonard Floyd’s status is uncertain, with Goldman and Unrein limited at practice.
When Tennessee does decide to throw the football, they’ll be in good shape as well. Chicago’s 21st ranked pass defense is still young and missing key players in the secondary. WR Rishard Matthews has come alive for Tennessee in the middle of the season. Indianapolis has been the only team to keep him out of the endzone since Week 5, though he did collect 122 yards in their second meeting last week. Look for a successful first half from him as the Titans build their lead and a steady second half as Henry and Murray run the clock out.
As Bears scouts make their rounds at the great college games this weekend,
the quarterback stories will be diverse when the Titans visit Chicago. On one team, you have the Heisman winner settling in and competing for the AFC South, and the other team has question marks. Jay Cutler’s season status is up in the air after reports of a torn labrum, further raising the feeling that he should be cut and replaced by the next rookie sensation. Backup Brian Hoyer remains on the IR, leaving former USC Trojan Matt Barkley with the reins. Barkley was solid for a few possessions earlier in the season, but struggled after halftime in the Thursday night game against the Packers in Week 7. While the future of the quarterback position in Chicago is difficult to predict, the outcome of this game is far clearer. Barring a series of unfortunate injuries to Tennessee, it’s hard to see this going well for Chicago. A healthy roster could compete with most of the league, but this one is too mangled to overcome the athletes that the Titans employ. Titans win 10 – 42.
From all of us here at Armchair All-Americans, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.