Bulletin-Board Material

Lake Forest- The Bears have reason to be confident heading into their divisional tilt with the Panthers. In the first matchup, Adewale Ogunleye and the rest of the defensive line combined for 8 sacks.

When asked if the same type of performance could be repeated, Ogunleye didn't hesitate.

"Why not? I'm not going to give credit too much to people. That's your job," Ogunleye said. "But for us, we've got to have the same confidence we had when we played them (Nov. 20). They had all the hype coming into the game and we felt they didn't deserve it, and I think again they're getting a lot more hype than they should and we're just going to continue to play as hard as we can. I'm not downplaying the Carolina Panthers, but I'm up-playing us."

The Panthers are coming off a dominating 23-0 win over the New York Giants, which has contributed to the hype coming into the rematch with the Bears.

The first time around the Bears were 6-3, but had yet to beat a team with a winning record. Carolina had won six straight and were the hottest team in the NFC.

Chicago jumped out early thanks to two interceptions by Nathan Vasher that led to 10 points. The front four took over, dominating the line of scrimmage and got to Jake Delhomme on a consistent basis without the blitz.

"In the back of their minds they know what they're going against," Ogunleye said. "If we can continue to control the ball the way we did up front and let the linebackers roam about and help out with the secondary, it'll be a good day for us."

The difference this time around could be an improved running game. Veteran RB Stephen Davis is on injured reserve and Deshaun Foster is getting the bulk of the carries. He averaged 97 yards per game on the ground in the final five weeks of the regular season. With the Giants playing practice squad caliber linebackers, he put 151 yards and often ran through tackles.

"We can't let him get outside but he can. He's fast," said DE Alex Brown, who had two sacks and two forced fumbles in the first meeting. "They run a lot of tosses with him to use his speed. That actually helps their different blocking schemes, it's not all power. They can run some finesse type plays. The guy runs hard, he breaks tackles. He did last game against the Giants he broke a lot of tackles. So we've just got to wrap up, we can't miss tackles. So if we do that we should be in good shape."

Although WR Steve Smith had 14 receptions for 169 yards against the 5th ranked pass defense in the regular season, he failed to get in the end zone. Allowing Smith to catch the ball is one thing, but limiting the big plays is another.

"We've all tried to stop him and we've all had trouble doing it," said Coach Lovie Smith. "As far as us letting him get his catches and keep everybody else down, that's really not the plan that we had last time either. We want to eliminate the big plays with him, but we want to try to shut him down as much as possible. That's just hard to do. Hopefully we'll control him a little bit and not let him get in the end zone."

Bear Report Top Stories