Key Matchups in Panthers vs. Bears

The Carolina Panthers have really struggled the last two weeks, looking lost on both sides of the ball. However a strong showing this week against the Chicago Bears will help everyone forget the past two weeks and keep the team above .500. These are three key matchups to watch on Sunday that could decide the outcome of the game.

Kelvin Benjamin vs. Kyle Fuller

This is going to be a battle between two of the top rookies in the NFC. Kelvin Benjamin won NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month, while Kyle Fuller won the award on the defensive side of the ball. Benjamin leads the Panthers in almost every receiving category (receptions, targets, yards and touchdowns). He has been one of the few bright spots on this Panthers’ offense.

Fuller, who was the 14th overall pick by the Bears, saw his playing time increase significantly since the injury to Charles Tillman. He already has three interceptions and two forced fumbles this year but did struggle last week against the Packers. This should be a fun matchup between two rookies playing at a high level to start the season.

 

Matt Forte vs. Panthers’ defensive front seven

The Bears’ running back is one of the best in the league and is a dual threat. He is as dangerous running the ball as he is catching it out of the backfield. Through the first four games, Forte has 452 yards from scrimmage and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. He has not been able to get into the end zone yet this year and will be determined to do that Sunday.

This matchup seems to favor Forte, especially with how much the Panthers have struggled against the run recently. They currently rank 29th in the NFL in rushing yards against and have given up 391 yards the past two weeks. The Panthers front seven is led by Luke Kuechly, one of the best in the game today, and could possibly get back Thomas Davis this week. It would not surprise me if this defense played much better against the run this week.

 

Panthers’ Offensive Tackles vs. Bears’ Defensive Ends

This looks to be one matchup that the Bears look to have a clear advantage in a group with Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Allen missed last week’s game with pneumonia but has started practicing this week and should be ready for Sunday. Young has been the pass rusher this season with four sacks while Houston and Allen have yet to register a sack.

The Panthers tackles (Byron Bell and Nate Chandler) have not looked good this year. According to Pro Football Focus, the two tackles have combined for an overall rating of -20.6 and a pass blocking rating of -13.7. This could be a long day for Cam Newton if he is not able to get rid of the ball quickly and has to hold it in the pocket.

What matchups are you looking forward to watching on Sunday? Be sure to let me know in the message board!


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