EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - OCTOBER 03: Julius Peppers #90 exhales...let's all take a deep breath and exhale too. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Now that the Bears have their "Epic Fail Game" out of the way, "I'm gone to Carolina in my mind."
81: Number of sacks Julius Peppers had with Carolina.
2: Number of sacks Peppers has with the Bears...look for this number to double!
44: Number of games Chris Harris played and started in while with Carolina.
5: Number of interceptions Chris Harris has with both Carolina and while with the Bears in his career.
2-2: All time record between these two teams. 75-74 is the all-time score between them too. (Bears by 1)
29-21: Final score vs Carolina in their 2005 Playoff game loss. Could someone please double team Steve Smith?
OUT: Chris Williams-hamstring; Major Wright-hamstring; Jay Cutler-head
OUT: Jamar Williams-neck; Jeff Otah-knee; Steve Smith-ankle; Sherrod Martin-head
When Carolina Has the Ball:
The one thing Carolina does well is run the ball. With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, they have a great backfield duo. Each of these guys are strong, have quickness, and can get it done. Nique detailed the matchup of Carolina's offensive line vs. the Bears' defensive front 7 in his post yesterday. LINK. As far as the passing game goes, the Panthers are starting a rookie quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, and two rookie wide receivers, Brandon LaFell & David Gettis. TE Dante Rosario does have some talent though. The Bears defense should dominate this group. Should.
Key Matchup: Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Matt Toeaina, & Henry Melton vs. Travelle Wharton (LG), Ryan Kalil (C), Mack Bernadeau (RG). 89% of Carolina's running plays are over the tackles or inside (11% to the outside). These guys like to smash the football down the defense's throat. It's up to the Bears' tackles to stop that push.
X-Factor: Julius Peppers' adrenaline. Can he control his emotions and translate his excitement into football fury?
When Chicago Has the Ball:
Can we please establish the run? Please? With the prolific Todd Collins at quarterback, the Bears must do better on the ground. No doubt, Carolina thinks this too, so Mike Martz is sure to have a few surprises in the passing game too. But the Bears do not want the game in their QB's hands this weekend. They need to establish the run, and stick to it.
Key Matchup: Jon Beason (LB) is the Panthers best defensive player now that Peppers plays for the Bears. His matchup in the run game vs. Greg Olsen, Brandon Manumaleuna, Lance Louis, and Olin Kreutz should be the difference between a good day and a great day.
X-Factor: When Todd Collins drops back to pass, who steps up for the Bears and GETS OPEN?
My Prediction: Bears win 13 - 9