Matchups to Watch: Bears Offense vs. Panthers Defense
This week, look for Peppers to rush the passer more frequently and try to force Orton into mistakes. With Peppers rushing the passer instead of dropping back into coverage, it should open up opportunities for the other players along the line – Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis, Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson – to get favorable matchups against the Bears offensive line.
TEs Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen vs. S Chris Harris: The Bears don't have a receiver that can beat anybody consistently, but the tight end duo of Clark and Olsen might be the best in the NFC. While they only registered four combined catches in that Week-1 upset of the Colts in Indianapolis, they did put together 82 yards for a scintillating 20.5 yards-per-catch average. Clark is more of a traditional tight end and lines up with his hand on the ground more often that not, while Olsen has the versatility to both split wide as a receiver and drop behind the QB as a fullback.
Harris has quickly become the leader of Carolina's secondary after being acquired from the Bears during training camp a year ago, but he has always been a better in-the-box safety and struggles at times covering quicker players in open space.
Matchups to Watch: Panthers Offense vs. Bears Defense
For Carolina to be successful, they will have to run the ball effectively. If the Panthers win this battle, they will win the game.
WR Muhsin Muhammad vs. CBs Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher: Muhammad may have been voted a team captain during his three-year stint in the Windy City, but his proclivity for throwing teammates under the bus – while making sure to pat himself on the back as often as possible – started to wear thin in the locker room. The Bears have been saying all the right things this week when asked about Moose's comments in Sports Illustrated, when he apparently told Peter King that Chicago "is where receivers go to die," but don't be overly surprised if you see a little head-hunting on No. 87 this Sunday. Neither Tillman nor Vasher qualifies as your prototypical shutdown corner, but both of them are physical and come up with their share of interceptions.
Bears killer Steve Smith will be watching this game in street clothes as he finishes serving his two-game suspension, meaning Muhammad should be the target of several Jake Delhomme passes.
The Panthers will win this game if ...
The Panthers will lose this game if ...
The Bears will win this game if ...
The Bears will lose this game if ...
John Crist: It was a perfect storm for the Bears in Indy – strong running game, no turnovers, shutting down the run, scoring off a takeaway, and solid special teams. Aside from Devin Hester getting too cute in the return game with that second-half kickoff, Smith's club was just about flawless. They're not as good as they looked in Week 1, so look for them to come back to Earth ... Panthers 20, Bears 16.
Behind Enemy Lines: Part III
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