I see a whole lot of sad faces on the huddle as of late. As your MFCEO, I am here to turn that frown upside down.
Allow me to inject a little hope into your emo IV drip. Turn down the Evanescence, and read on.
This Sunday the Carolina Panthers take on the NFC North's Chicago Bears. For a glance at how well the Panthers could do against the Bears, lets look back to our other NFC North opponent from week 2, the Detroit Lions. The Bears are not all that dissimilar to the Lions on paper. Pocket passer, large receivers, dynamic running back, 4-3 defense, etc....
The Panthers defense was able to allow only seven points to the potent Detroit offense. Detroit currently has the 10th ranked offense in the NFL. Chicago has the 16th.
Yes, but the Panthers are injured now, right? Yes and no.
Yes, Charles Johnson looks like he probably will not play on Sunday. In the game against Detroit, Johnson had 1 tackle. If Horton, Addison, or Ealy can muster a single tackle they will have matched Johnson's production. Mario Addison, on the other hand, registered three tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits. Addison is starting Sunday.
The only only other difference on the defensive side of the ball personnel wise is Josh Norman being promoted to starter over Melvin White. This may actually be an improvement against Chicago's large athletic wide outs (if Norman can maintain his composure.)
Thomas Davis is the healthiest he has been since the Detroit game where he lead the team with 12 tackles. Although his presence was desperately needed in Baltimore, having him healthy at home this week may be the difference in the game.
Defensively, the bottom line is this: Last Sunday, the Bears mustered only 17 points at home against Green Bay, who currently have the 28th ranked defense in the league. The Panthers defense has already proven once this year that they can dominate with the roster available to them this Sunday. Will they? That is entirely up to them.
On the offensive side of the ball, there are also reasons to be hopeful.
Byron Bell and Nate Chandler have looked horrible in the last two games. The good news is while those games were against 3-4 defenses. Chicago mainly sticks with their base 4-3. Bell and Chandler have performed average to above average against 4-3 defenses this season.
Yes, Deangelo Williams is out on Sunday. But he was out against the Lions as well. Jonathan Stewart may be back this week, but he only averaged 2.5 yards per carry against Detroit. Tolbert is also out, but he actually had -5 yards on the day. Stewart, Reaves, and Ogbonnaya may actually give the Panthers more options in play calling against Chicago.
Lets not forget Brandon Williams getting his first big shot this week. Richie Brockel is an excellent blocker and is out for this game. The Panthers have been abysmal in short yardage situations where Brockel is mostly used. Brandon Williams could provide a spark to an element of the offense that can't get much worse.
Offensive Bottom Line: The Bears have allowed at least 19 points every game this season. Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and the receiving core are healthy and talented enough to put up touchdowns against Chicago. If Mike Shula can muster a somewhat respectable run game the Panthers should be able to put up 20+ points, enough to win provided the defense plays up to its potential.
Overall Bottom Line: The Panthers have the roster and the ability to win this game.