Week 9 brings us to the start of the 2012 season’s second half. Quick trivia: Which is the NFL’s only division with three teams over .500? You’re correct if you guessed the NFC North. Let’s dive into the matchups around the division this week.
Chicago Bears (6-1) at Tennessee Titans (3-5)
The Bears are rolling, the Titans are not. About the only thing in Tennessee’s favor this week is that it’s a home game.
The Bears narrowly escaped with a home win over Carolina while Tennessee came up just short against the Indianapolis Colts in overtime. As the saying goes, good teams find a way to win and Chicago keeps doing it week after week. They find themselves alone in 1st place atop the NFC North.
Tennessee has had solid play from backup QB Matt Hasselbeck in place of injured Jake Locker. Hasselbeck will start Sunday against the Bears. Unfortunately, Hasselbeck is the only Titans player who has played well consistently and the team has not been able to string consecutive wins together.
Titans RB Chris Johnson has flashed some of his vintage self lately, but not enough to put the team on his back. The Bears are giving up a stingy 77 yards/game rushing and Johnson will be the focal point of their defensive game plan.
The big focus for the Titans and Hasselbeck is taking care of the football. Chicago has mustered 16 interceptions in 7 games this season and they lead the league in takeaways. They are also a top-scoring defense so they are making those turnovers count. Hasselbeck has thrown four interceptions compared to six touchdown passes. His task will not be an easy one this Sunday.
For the Bears, the game plan is simple: run to daylight. Tennessee is surrendering 140 yards/game on the ground and the Bears happen to have a guy named Forte on their side. I’m no fantasy football expert but I say: start Forte! If Chicago builds a solid lead, you’ll see a good dose of Michael Bush as well.
While the rest of the North needs the Bears to slow down a tick, it likely doesn’t happen this week.