The Bears and Panthers played a Week Four shootout in October of 2011. But nobody has been firing anything but blanks at the 2012 Bears defense. And, almost bizarrely, the Panthers were a far better team with a rookie quarterback playing his fourth game than they are today.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- Because I am not buying into the "letdown game" concept. And unless you buy into the concept of the Bears suffering a letdown coming off Detroit, you can not conceivably think this beaten-and-left-for-dead Panthers team is going to win a big game on the road.
- (See: Pertinent Statistics.)
- Carolina is allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground.
- Matt Forte rushed for 205 yards against the Panthers a year ago.
- Carolina is ranked in the NFL's bottom five in both yards and points per game.
- The Bears are allowing only 13 points per game. They are a full 1.3 points better than San Francisco's 14.3.
STEVE SMITH IS ON THE CAROLINA PANTHERS
And I will have nightmares of his playoff Bears mauling from 2005 for the rest of my life. Don't remember it?
Side note on Smith: I'll be discussing an approach to covering Smith with Cameron Worrell on the pod later this week.
MORE ANALYSIS, PLEASE? SURE.
- We played the Ron Rivera/Greg Olsen motivation story line to death last year and the Panthers still lost the game. I don't think Rivera or Olsen are thinking about anything Sunday aside from attempting to rescue a sinking season.
- Yes the Panthers played the Bears tight in 2011 but they played the Bears during the the worst portion of their Cutler season. The Bears had come off back-to-back embarrassments versus Green Bay & New Orleans and followed the Carolina game with their humiliating Monday night effort in Detroit.
- Steve Smith had 8 catches for 181 yards last year and has about 10,000 yards against the Bears in his career. If Peanut Tillman shuts Smith down, I'll write a letter to Canton asking for his early enshrinement.
- I thought Cutler was going to have a breakout game against the Lions and he very well may have if he doesn't get DDT'd by Suh late in the second quarter. Having watched the Panthers secondary a few times this year, this could/should be the week if Cutler is as healthy as he says.
- This is not what you want to hear your coach say. Ron Rivera in the Charlotte Observer: “If (firing an assistant coach) is what has to happen eventually, then yeah. Maybe that’s what happens,” Rivera said. “Do we cut players? Yeah. Maybe that’s what we’ll have to do. We’re evaluating everything as we go forward.”
- The Panthers have lost their last two games at home while scoring 12 and 14 points. The Bears are averaging 13 points allowed. Hmmm...
- I think Greg Olsen will be a significant test for Brian Urlacher over the middle of the field but Olsen is not exactly a tough, over-the-middle type.
ON CAM NEWTON
He's the key to this game. Everything else is a secondary. I don't see how any prognosticator/analyst can accurately predict what the big righty is going to bring to Soldier Field Sunday because he's become the most unpredictable player in the sport down-to-down. The criticism has grown louder and louder. Here is what columnist Jason Whitlock wrote on Newton recently:
Cam Newton is being ruined. In the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, Newton, once again, handled the postgame news conference horribly. He not-so-subtly criticized his coaching staff. He flippantly quipped that he wanted to bring a suggestion box into the news conference. He condescendingly called a female reporter “sweetheart.”
He sounded like a crybaby and a loser. The black information bubble immediately leaped to Cam’s defense, claiming Cam’s critique of the offensive strategy was accurate.
The accuracy of his complaints is irrelevant. A quarterback is in partnership with his head coach and offensive coordinator. Their disagreements and criticisms should be handled internally and not referenced at a news conference by the QB.
Newton's maturity - much like the maturity of his quarterbacking counterpart - has been questioned publicly and his out-the-door GM questioned whether he'd put any leaders in the Panthers locker room. He's also been exhibiting odd behavior at press conferences. Like this:
I'm not concerned with his maturity (or the odd behavior, to be honest). I'm concerned with his ability to read defenses, make smart decisions and get the football to one of the best receivers in the game. Right now I just don't buy he'll be able to do that consistently for four quarters.
Bears win easily and save their clunker for me, in person, in Nashville. Chicago Bears 28, Carolina Panthers 10
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