For some reason this NFC match up will be broadcast on CBS for reasons I won’t even bother looking up. Kick off is set for 1 p.m. EST.
The Game: Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (+3)
The Bears and Panthers have played just nine games since 1995, with Chicago leading the all time series 5-4.
Chicago head coach John Fox was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers from 2002-2010 and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2003-04 season.
The two teams last met up on October 5, 2014 with the Panthers winning 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Cam Newton outdueled Jay Cutler with a 19 of 35 passing day for 255 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Cutler was 28 of 36 for 289 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-2)
The Panthers roll into a Chicago without their best defensive player. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is the concussion protocol again after a hit last week and won’t play. It’s worrisome for Kuechly, especially after the trouble he had last season with a concussion that cost him basically a third of the year. The way Kuechly plays, you wonder how much longer he’ll feel comfortable staying in the NFL. He’s a guy with Hall of Fame potential and you hate to see a career end prematurely, but Kuechly has to think about his future and what kind of problems he wants to deal with as an older man.
Cam Newton was playing fine last week against the Philadelphia Eagles until he looked like he injured his shoulder diving for the end zone. It’s the same shoulder that he had surgically repaired in the off-season and kept him out of the preseason. After the dive, Newton through a couple of bad picks. Like seriously bad. Like DeShone Kizer bad.
Plenty of guys are questionable on the injury report, but the only other guys expected to miss the game are safety Demetrious Cox, offensive tackle John Theus and back up running back Fozzy Whittaker.
CHICAGO BEARS (2-4)
In just his second career NFL start, rookie Mitchell Trubisky picked up his first win at quarterback last week, leading the Bears 27-24 over the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, that’s the headline and Trubisky played well enough, but the game ball belonged to running back Jordan Howard who carried the ball 36 times for 167 yards.
Trubisky did get the job done, but just barely. He completed just eight passes for 113 yards and touchdown in 16 attempts. On what would turn out to be the game winning drive in the fourth quarter, Trubisky completed only one pass, an 18-yarder to Kendall Wright. Howard did all the rest, getting the Bears into a field goal range for Connor Barth to hit a 40 yarder with a little over two minutes left.
Still, a win’s a win and while there’s no telling which Ravens team will show up week to week, Chicago was definitely the underdog there on the road and got it done. The Bears defense forced two Joe Flacco interceptions, sacked him three times and got five stops in the backfield.
Even though Trubisky didn’t complete a lot of passes, he spread the ball around when he did. Six different receivers caught Trubisky’s eight passes, which means he’s going through his progressions well and not eyeballing a specific guy. Since the Bears are without their two best pass-catches, that’s a good sign.
The Bears will be without wide receiver Markus Wheaton who is still nursing a groin injury. Cornerback Sherrick McManis and linebakcer John Timu are both listed as doubtful and probably won’t play.
I’m worried about Cam Newton’s shoulder and the team would be wise to lean more on the running game this week and take it easy on their star quarterback. Chicago is coming off a solid win, but the deck is too stacked against them in this game. I like Carolina to eke out a close one on the road. Panthers 20, Bears 17
Straight up: 0-1
Against the spread: 0-1
Straight up: 5-9
Against the spread: 5-9
Straight up: 48-43
Against the spread: 43-48
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