With Jay Cutler out for this Sunday's game at Carolina, and Todd Collins getting the start over Hanie, the Bears will have to go back to their winning formula of the Super Bowl year which is playing good defense, running the football, and playing great special teams. For the Bears defense to have success this Sunday, the first main objective is to shutdown the Carolina Panthers' dynamic duo DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Bears had success stopping Williams in their last meeting, but the game completely changed when the Panthers started handing the ball to Stewart, a big back that runs with power and speed. Bears defenders were just bouncing off him and the effect of that rushing attack eventually opened up the passing attack which lead to a late comeback victory.
The Panthers rushing attack has gotten off to a slow start (I would know because I have DeAngelo Williams on my Fantasy Team) this year mainly because of injuries to the line and the lack of a passing attack lead by the rookie Jimmy Clausen, but they are still dangerous and at anytime can change the momentum of a game. For the Bears to win this game they will have to completely stop the Panthers duo, and put all the pressure on Jimmy Clausen in his Steve Smith-less receiving corps to win the game for them. If they shut down the rushing attack of the Panthers, I like their chances of doing their part of winning the game for the team.
Peppers has been pretty good this year against the run and in fact might be the Bears' best run defender from the defensive end position. Gross is a pretty good run blocker, which should set up to be a good battle between the two former teammates. Gross and the rest of his lineman teammates have struggled this season running the football when you compare it to previous seasons. Both guys know each other very well and it will come down to pure skill and determination.
When it comes down to the running game, these two are almost easily matched. Adams is a solid run stuffer at the nose tackle position, while Travelle Wharton is a solid starting left guard who can move the pile. Like the Peppers/Gross battle this will be a seesaw battle between the two, but Adams' job is simple. All he really has to do is occupy his gap, and keep Wharton from getting a body on the linebackers so they can make plays. Adams has consistently done that so far this season and I expect no different this Sunday.
I really expect Toenia and Harris to be double teamed by Center Kalil all afternoon. I have a little faith in Toenia being able to fight through the double teams, but Harris not so much. Harris was pretty bad last week against the Giants so it's easy for me not to count on him to come through for Sunday's game. Don't be surprised to see new Bear Charles Grant gets some snaps in the 3 technique position also.
No more Mark Anderson, and the addition of Grant should be make the combination of him and Idonije a pretty good defensive end tandem from a run support standpoint. Schwartz, like Gross, is not much of a mauler at the RT position, but is athletic enough to get to the second level. This match-up should be in the favor of the Idonjie and Grant, whose veteran presence should be an advantage over the experienced Schwartz.
If the front four does their job against the Panthers line, it will make it much easier for these players to swarm to the ball carrier. The line and the linebackers will have to be aware of DeAngelo Williams' cut back ability, because one bad move and he can break one and change the momentum of the game. In a game where you're without your star quarterback, the front 7 can't allow big momentum swinging plays.