Titans at Bears: What to watch

Friday, November 25, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 48
By Terry McCormick

Pressure Jay Cutler. Cutler is an enigma. The former Vanderbilt quarterback has had a star-crossed career with lots of good mixed with about as much bad.

The Titans can’t afford to let him get on a roll against them because Cutler can bury a team if he gets hot. They need to make sure that he isn’t in a rhythm.

Start fast. The Titans saw what a slow start did for them in Indianapolis. They simply cannot afford to keep falling into holes because it makes their offense one-dimensional and pretty much takes the running game out of the equation.

On what should be a cold day in Chicago, the Titans will need that running game to grind out yards and win time of possession rather than falling behind.

Get Walker involved again. Delanie Walker was targeted by the Colts as a player they had to stop Sunday, and they held him to four catches for 36 yards. Walker is too vital a part of the Titans offense not to be a factor. Look for Marcus Mariota to get him going early against the Bears.

Put up points. The Titans scored just 17 points against the Colts after three straight weeks of 35 points or more. The Bears’ offense has been terrible, averaging just over 15 points a game, so if the Titans can get back on track and find the end zone they should be able to take advantage of Chicago’s anemic offense, which is without receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

Matchups to watch

Pernell McPhee vs. Titans left tackle. Taylor Lewan went down with a knee injury, not good news for the Titans, who must contend with Bears pass rusher Pernell McPhee. If Lewan cannot go, then it likely will be Dennis Kelly protecting Marcus Mariota’s blind side.

Bears linebackers vs. DeMarco Murray. Murray now has 1,000 yards on the nose after rushing for 70 yards.

The Bears will be without linebacker Jerrell Freeman, a one-time Titans training camp body, who was suspended on Monday for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Matt Barkley vs. Brian Orakpo. Jay Cutler, who was sacked 17 times in a partial season, is out for the remainder of the year with a torn labrum, several outlets are reporting, leaving the QB duties to Barkley. Orakpo, who leads the Titans with nine sacks, should be eager to get to Barkley.

Titans (5-6) at Bears (2-8) kicks off Sunday at noon on CBS.