In Week 9, the Bears will face one of the biggest surprises in the league last season, the AFC finalist Tennessee Titans. The last time the Bears made the trek to Nashville on Nov. 4, 2012, traveling Chicago fans famously drank some local establishments dry and Lovie Smith’s squad waltzed to a 51-20 blowout win behind a pick-six by Brian Urlacher and four forced fumbles by Charles “Peanut” Tillman.
Player to Watch
Mike Vrabel made a quarterback change from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill early last season, and the former Dolphin lifted the team into the playoffs, earning a lucrative contract in the process. In 13 games last season, including the playoffs, Tannehill went 9-4, throwing for 3,111 yards with 27 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions. He received $91 million guaranteed for his efforts, and it will be interesting to see how the next act in his resurrected career will play out.
Additions & Subtractions
Alongside Tannehill, the Titans made sure their other standout performer from their playoff run stayed in town, slapping the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry. The former Alabama star was unstoppable in January, and now he’ll pair with Tannehill for a full season. The Titans also signed former Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley, while saying goodbye to their one-time franchise signal-caller in Mariota.
The Titans were one of the league’s biggest surprises as they caught fire and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game. Can they repeat that success now that they have a target on their backs? The AFC South had a lot of personnel turnover with a QB change in Indianapolis and DeAndre Hopkins getting traded from Houston, so Tennessee might be able to take advantage and book a return trip to the playoffs.