NFL Gridiron Gab Week Five Preview: Chicago at Carolina

Julius returns home Sunday

Gotta wonder…if Brett Favre, Randy Moss and the Vikings were on the schedule this week, would the Bears still sit Jay Cutler?

We’ll never know the answer, but we do know that Todd Collins will be taking snaps Sunday against the winless Carolina Panthers. While Cutler takes a week off to recover from his Giant-induced concussion, expect the less-than-marquee Collins-vs.-Jimmy Clausen QB matchup to turn into an ugly, low-scoring game the Bears should be happy to simply escape with a victory.

Here’s what else you should expect:

A conservative all-around game plan.

When Collins came in against the Giants, Martz dialed up more run plays, and we should expect the same in Carolina. With a close-to-the-vest offensive game plan, this could come down to a field position battle. If Brad Maynard ends up being the Bears MVP, that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. Lovie will lean on his defense to create multiple turnovers against an inexperienced QB. And one costly TO for a TD could be enough to get us by.

Improved play by the Bears’ O-line. (Although, allowing 9 sacks would be an improvement over last week, so I guess that isn’t saying much.)

The Panthers have only generated 4 sacks this season, which is surprisingly as many as the Bears have mustered. It should be an opportunity for the Bears maligned O-line to start rebuilding their confidence.

A matchup of strength vs. strength.

The Bears entered last week with the #1 run defense in the league and held the Giants powerful running game in check for most of the game. They’ll need to play a more complete game against the Panthers powerful duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. I think the Carolina rushing attack will do enough to keep this one close into the fourth quarter.

A pissed-off Peppers.

Julius Peppers will ride back into Carolina to harass the team, fans and ownership he starred for nearly a decade. He’s reportedly ticked about the Panthers bad-mouthing him in the media after it was apparent he wasn’t going to resign with them. While he may not get more than a sack, he’ll continue to wreak havoc on the Panthers’ o-line, ground game and inexperienced QB.

A nearly invisible Panthers passing game.

Carolina’s best offensive weapon, WR Steve Smith, will likely miss the game with an injured ankle. With Smith out, it could mean the Panthers rookie QB will be throwing to 2 rookie WRs – David Gettis and Brandon LaFell. If the Bears get an early lead and corral the Panthers running game, the Monsters of the Midway will have a field day.


Hide the children, because this one will be ugly. Bears 10, Panthers 6

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