Sunday Snapshot: Bears vs. Panthers

The NFL experts from The Sports Xchange come up with everything you need to know prior to Sunday's contest, as the Chicago Bears take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 5 at Bank of America Stadium.

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT
Kickoff: Noon Central
Surface: Natural Grass
Television: FOX – Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
Series History: Fifth regular-season meeting. Series tied 2-2. Panthers won the last meeting 20-17 at Soldier Field in 2008, and the only postseason meeting, 29-21, in a divisional-round game in 2005.

KEYS TO THE GAME
The Bears must attempt to recover from last week's physical onslaught, with pass protection becoming the greatest priority for a poor offensive line that has also failed to run block effectively. The matchup the Bears must win is against LB Jon Beason, who is blitzing regularly and can chase backup QB Todd Collins from the pocket. Collins will be filling in for Jay Cutler, who received a concussion during the Giants' siege last week. Carolina's punchless offense will be even more limited with a milquetoast receiving corps unlikely to have Steve Smith (ankle). The Bears always aim to take the run away, and they will dare rookie QB Jimmy Clausen to beat them.

FAST FACTS
The Bears have one rushing TD in their past 13 games. ... The Panthers are 14-0 when RB Jonathan Stewart has 14 or more carries.


G Lance Louis
Scott Boehm/Getty

PERSONNEL NEWS
Bears:
Cutler, who leads the NFL with a fourth-quarter passer rating of 133.4, has been ruled out for Sunday's game due to a concussion. He is not expected to miss more than one game. ... Collins, 38, gets the start Sunday in place of Cutler. Collins' last start was almost three years ago, when he led the Redskins to a 3-0 record in the final three games of the 2007 regular season, helping them to the playoffs. ... WR Johnny Knox is No. 1 in the NFL with 21.5 yards per catch among all players with 10 or more catches. ... RG Lance Louis (left knee) was a full participant in Thursday's practice after being limited on Wednesday. He is expected to start on Sunday. ... LT Chris Williams (hamstring) has been out since the opening possession in Week 2 and has not practiced with the team yet, but he has been working on the side with trainers and is expected back at practice next week.

Panthers: Smith remains in an air cast and will not play this week against the Bears. The question will be if he can go when the team returns from the bye week. That may still be a little early for Smith. ... RT Jeff Otah (knee) still hasn't practiced this year and won't play this week against the Bears. Otah has missed all four games, but the hope is he can return after the bye next week. ... S Sherrod Martin (concussion) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday, which likely means he won't play this week. ... S Jordan Pugh, a rookie, is likely to start this week against the Bears, with Martin still recovering from a concussion. ... LB Jamar Williams (neck) practiced Wednesday but did not work Thursday. It's unclear if he's had a setback, but that puts his status for Sunday's game in doubt. ... WR Brandon LaFell is expected to start opposite fellow rookie David Gettis on Sunday against the Bears. That means the Panthers will have a rookie quarterback throwing to two rookie wide receivers.

PREDICTION
Bears 31, Panthers 13.


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