By: Jay Patel
Spread: Carolina Panthers (-1)
Money Line: CHI (-105) CAR (-115)
Kick-Off: 12 PM CT, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
It’s an NFC showdown between the 4-1 Chicago Bears and 3-2 Carolina Panthers. Both of these teams have been exceeding expectations this season, and this will be a very fun matchup. Can the Bears defense contain Teddy B and a resurgent Mike Davis? Or will Nick Foles find his offensive rhythm and carry the Bears to another statement win? It’s time to breakdown this critical matchup of NFC foes!
Chicago had a longer break due to their TNF win over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. Hopefully, the team could work on their offensive game plan as there are still several areas of improvement. One of those comes in the run game. After rushing for only 35 yards in the TNF win, Chicago must find a way to execute an effective run game. The O-line has been decent all season, but the loss of James Daniels for the season really hurts. He was a steady presence, but now, the Bears will have to rely on unexperienced guards for the remainder of the season unless a veteran is brought in. Running the ball effectively and limiting penalties will be key for Chicago’s offense.
The Bears boast one of the best defenses in football. They Bear Down on 3rd down, ranked 2nd in the NFL with a 33.3% conversion rate. Furthermore, opposing teams need to get creative when facing this defense in the red zone, as the Bears are 1st in the NFL with red-zone TD percentage (36.8%). Additionally, with the way Khalil Mack played last week, it’s scary to think this defense can get even better. Teddy B will have a tough task in front of him with the Monsters of the Midway.
Under rookie Head Coach Matt Rhule, the Panthers have been better than most people thought. Teddy Bridgewater (101.9 passer rating) has been excellent in the first year of his new contract. Meanwhile, RB Mike Davis (formerly of the Bears) has been dominant as he replaces stud Christian McCaffrey. Davis has racked up 220 rushing yards in five games. Speaking of offensive weapons, Robby Anderson has developed into Teddy’s favorite weapon, catching 36 passes for 489 yards and a TD. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are two other great WR the Panthers have.
The Panthers completely revamped their defense, but have still managed to be formidable. They allow 24 points per game, but a 50.85% 3rd down rate is cause for concern. It doesn’t help that DT Kawaan Short has been ruled out for the season. He was a critical player on the line for Carolina. Names to watch on Carolina’s defense are rookie S Jeremy Chinn (leads team with 44 tackles), Donte Jackson (two picks), and DE Brian Burns and Stephen Weatherly (two sacks each).
Prediction and Best Bet
Without McCaffrey, the Panthers still have a run game, and the Bears have struggled stopping the run, so it’s crucial Chicago limits Mike Davis. The Bears also have to worry about their own run game that has been ineffective and inconsistent. However, I like the matchup of the Bears D against Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles against the Carolina D. So, I’m taking the Bears for one unit on the money line at -105. Foles will be even better this time out.
Jay’s NFL Prediction Record: 4-1