- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO BEARS vs. HOUSTON TEXANS
When: 7:20 p.m. Sunday | TV: NBC
RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM; WLEY (107.9 FM)
CHICAGO BEARS (7-1)
Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 78-58
Career record (including playoffs) vs. Mike Munchak: 0-1 | Career record vs. Texans: 0-2
Last week: Defeated Tennessee Titans 51-20.
Key stat: The Bears are currently on their longest winning streak since winning the first seven games of the 2006 season, and have won at least five games in a row for the third consecutive season, which marks the first time since 1947-49 the club accomplished that feat. The Bears lead the NFL in takeaways (28) and turnover differential (plus-16).
Offense rank: 25th (324.4 ypg) | Defense rank: sixth (318.1 ypg).
Offensive leader: Brandon Marshall has been the most consistent performer on offense, and has been given far more opportunities than every other player. But he’s made good on his chances. Marshall has nine catches in back-to-back outings for a combined 220 yards and three touchdowns and is currently on pace to shatter virtually every Bears franchise receiving record.
Defensive leader: Cornerback Charles Tillman won NFC Player of the Month in October, and followed that up by forcing a career-high four fumbles in last week’s shellacking of the Tennessee Titans. Although he’s forced turnovers his entire career, Tillman is beginning to receive recognition nationally for his accolades, which also puts opposing offenses on notice.
The Bears have intercepted a pass in every game this season and have scored on an INT return in four of the last five contests.
Cutler has thrown for at least one touchdown in five consecutive games.
Tillman has forced six fumbles in his last three games.
Patrick Mannelly will extend his record for most games played in a Bears uniform to 224 against the Texans.
Brian Urlacher has recovered a fumble in two of the last three games.
Lance Briggs has posted double-digit tackle totals in two of his last three games.
HOUSTON TEXANS (7-1)
Coach: Gary Kubiak | Record: 55-51
Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 1-0 | Career record vs. Bears: 1-0
Last week: Defeated the Buffalo Bills 21-9
Key stat: The Texans are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown all season. Houston’s defense hasn’t surrendered a rushing touchdown in a regular-season outing since Week 15 of the 2011 season. So the club has gone 11 regular-season games without giving up a rushing TD.
Offense rank: 12th (371.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 3rd (286.1 ypg).
Offensive leader: Running back Arian Foster ranks No. 2 in the AFC with 770 yards rushing and leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns. Foster has scored a touchdown in 10 consecutive regular-season games. Since 2010, Foster leads the NFL in rushing yards per game (97.6), yards from scrimmage per game (132.6) and TDs from scrimmage (41).
Defensive leader: Defensive end J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and has posted a sack in each of his first six games this season, in addition to leading the team with 59 tackles. Watt is just the 11th NFL player since 1982 to generate 10 or more sacks and 10 or more passes defensed in a season. Watt was AFC defensive player of the month in September.
Houston has won three in a row on the road, and with a win at Soldier Field will tie the franchise record.
A sack by OLB Connor Barwin would give him a sack in three consecutive games for the first time this season and the third time of his career.
Receiver Andre Johnson has caught a pass in a franchise-record 91 consecutive games.
QB Matt Schaub needs 144 yards passing to reach 20,000 for his career.
OLB Whitney Mercilus has posted a sack and forced a fumble in two consecutive games.