When the Chicago Bears (5-3) and Tennessee Titans (5-2) meet on Sunday, one team should earn their sixth win while the other will see their losing streak grow to three games. The Titans are coming off a surprising 31-20 loss to the Bengals while the Bears fell 26-23 in overtime to the Saints.
Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday, November 8, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at Nissan Stadium
Chicago is also 5-3 ATS despite being an underdog in all but one game this season. The NFL odds again favor the Bears’ opponent as Tennessee is a 6-point favorite on most betting sites. The Titans have been favored in all but one game this season, but are only 2-5 ATS as they have mostly won close games.
Certainties: Death, Taxes, and the Chicago Bears Struggling on Offense
It’s nice to have some traditions hold true in 2020, but it has to be frustrating if you’re a Chicago Bears fan and the team once again features a championship-caliber defense that is held back by a putrid offense.
Matt Nagy was hired in 2018 as an offensive-minded coach, but during his tenure the Bears rank 30th in yards per play. Quarterback remains the biggest issue as Nick Foles has not been consistent enough with his accuracy to lead the offense to many points. The Bears have not scored more than 23 points since he took over in Atlanta in Week 3. Foles’ lack of mobility led to some crushing sacks in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Saints.
However, not everything about that loss was negative. Foles did show some good play in getting the game to overtime. Running back David Montgomery has struggled to be effective in his career, but he had a season-long 38-yard rush that led to a season-high 89 rushing yards.
Wide receivers have been feasting on the Tennessee defense this year, and Allen Robinson caught his third touchdown of 2020 on Sunday. Foles has also been misfiring to rookie wideout Darnell Mooney this year, but the two finally connected for a 50-yard pass (and later a touchdown) against the Saints.
One of the struggles for Chicago’s offense this year has been third down where the Bears rank 31st in conversion rate (34.9%). Fortunately, the Titans are having the worst season since down stats were recorded in 1991. Tennessee has allowed teams to convert 61.9% of the time on third down this season. The Bengals, a mediocre offense at best on third down this season, were 10-for-15 (66.7%) on Sunday in their win over Tennessee.
The Titans have one of the worst pass rushes in the league with 7.0 sacks in seven games. This could be the matchup Foles needs to get on track and keep Mitchell Trubisky on the bench.
Titans Face Good Defensive Test
These teams could not be any different when it comes to third down defense. While the Titans cannot get off the field, the Bears are allowing a conversion rate of just 29.8%, which currently ranks as the fifth-best mark in the NFL since 2004.
That success has led to the Bears having the No. 1 defense in touchdowns per drive allowed, both overall and in the red zone. The Bears are not forcing turnovers like they used to in their good years, but they keep teams out of the end zone and force a lot of field goal attempts. That was evident on Sunday when the Saints scored two touchdowns and attempted five field goals.
This could be problematic for a Tennessee offense that thrives in the red zone under Ryan Tannehill since last year. Kicking has been an issue and Stephen Gostkowski has already missed seven field goals (10-of-17) this season. He is the only kicker under 60% on field goals in 2020.
Running back Derrick Henry is one of the safest bets in football to get his touches. Henry has carried the ball at least 18 times in 16 straight games, tied for the seventh-longest streak in the NFL since 1950. The Bears have not been a stellar run defense in 2020, but they are good enough to not get repeatedly gashed. Chicago has also only allowed one offensive touchdown of more than 20 yards this season.
Ryan Tannehill’s stats have not been bad in the two losses, but he started too slowly and tried to make up huge deficits. That is a bad recipe when the Titans love to use play-action passing as much as any offense. The Bears are not the kind of team that jumps out to big leads this year. Tannehill will have to contend with a solid pass rush led by Khalil Mack and a secondary that has only allowed eight touchdown passes in eight games.
The Titans have a huge division game coming up on Thursday against the Colts, but they cannot overlook the Bears in this one. Chicago’s defense should keep the Titans down enough on offense to keep the game competitive.
I think Foles utilizes his wideouts the way Ben Roethlisberger did against Tennessee, and he plays his best game of the season for Chicago. At the very least, Foles will have a chance late in the game to pull off another Chicago upset.
Four of Tennessee’s five wins have been by a combined 12 points this season. Nagy’s Bears may play an ugly brand of football, but it usually leads to a favorable outcome on the scoreboard and in NFL picks. In 41 career games, Nagy has only lost by more than three points nine times, tied for the third fewest among all NFL teams since 2018.