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NFL Week 10 game preview: Bears vs. Panthers

Two franchises, tied together through trades, battle it out on Thursday Night Football for all of the world to see.

A nationally televised audience, tuning in to Amazon Prime, will be treated to the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers Thursday night.

Two teams with a combined three wins between them.

Not the best and brightest.

But it is intriguing for fans of the two teams. They will forever be linked by the blockbuster trade last spring, which sent the first overall pick to Carolina from Chicago.

The Panthers took Bryce Young, the Bears got DJ Moore and next year’s pick, among other picks and swaps.

While things haven’t worked out great for Chicago, yet, they aren’t exactly working great for Carolina, either.

Young is having some rookie growing pains, while the QB selected immediately after him, C.J. Stroud, is having a phenomenal rookie campaign.

The Panthers pick that Chicago holds next spring could very well be the first overall pick. At worst, top three.

So it’s in Chicago’s best interest to win Thursday. But can they? They can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Let’s break it down.

Carolina Panthers

SB Nation site: Cat Scratch Reader

Record: 1-6, last in the NFC South

Last week: 27-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts

Game day, time, TV: Thursday, 7:15 p.m. CT, Amazon Prime

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 3-point favorites over the Panthers. The total is 40 points.

Bears all-time record against: 7-4 including 0-1 postseason

Historical meetings: The teams first met in week 6 of the 1995 season. This was the inaugural season for the Panthers’ franchise.

The Panthers came in 0-4 to face the 2-2 Chicago Bears.

Erik Kramer threw three touchdowns for Chicago and Rashaan Salaam added 105 yards on the ground.

The Panthers returned a punt for a 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to take the lead.

But Kramer and the Bears responded with a 60-yard 10-play drive capped by a Robert Green rushing touchdown with just over four minutes left.

Donnell Woolford picked off Kerry Collins on the next drive to solidify the 31-27 win for Chicago.

Last meeting: Week 6 of the 2020 season. The 4-1 Bears went to Charlotte to face the 3-2 Panthers.

The Bears took a 20-6 lead late in the third quarter on a Nick Foles QB sneak. But the Panthers finally got in the endzone with a Mike Davis rush.

The Bears added a field goal that was the difference, as neither team could score again and DeAndre Houston-Carson intercepted Teddy Bridgewater on Carolina’s final drive.

The Bears won 23-16.

Injury report: The Panthers had a bevvy of players on their simulated injury report. It included seven players who would not have practiced, had the team had a live practice.

Did not participate

  • LB Brian Burns (concussion/elbow)
  • WR DJ Chark (elbow)
  • CB C.J. Henderson (concussion)
  • Laviska Shenault (ankle)
  • TE Stephen Sullivan (shoulder)
  • LB Luiji Vilain (knee)
  • FS Xavier Woods (thigh)

Offense: The Panthers offense comes into the game ranked 27th in points and 28th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 27th and their rushing defense ranks 24th.

Bryce Young (63.9 pct. cmp./1,375 yds./8 TD/7 INT ), the first overall pick is going through some serious growing pains, but doesn’t have much of a supporting cast.

His weapons are former Viking Adam Thielen (62 rec./610 yds./4 TD), rookie Johnathan Mingo (20/200/0), Terrace Marshall Jr. (17/123/0), DJ Chark (17/229/3) and Hayden Hurst (16/170/1).

The rushing attack is led by Chubba Hubbard (85 att./328 yds./1 TD) and Miles Sanders (69/229/1). Receiver Laviska Shenault (12/55/0) has more carries than receptions.

TE Tommy Tremble (8 rec./57/2) is third on the team in touchdown receptions.

Defense: The Panthers defense comes into the game ranked 31st in points and eighth in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks fourth and their rushing defense ranks 28th.

The defense is missing several playmakers in Jaycee Horn, Jeremy Chinn and Shaq Thompson.

The best defender on the Panthers is Brian Burns (5 sk/9 TFL/10 QB hits/1 FF). He is battling back from a concussion.

Frankie Luvu (62 tkl/3.5 sk/7 TFL/5 QB hits), Derrick Brown (1 sk/2 PD/6 QB hits/2 TFL), Vonn Bell (33 tkl/1 INT/2 PD),

Key match-ups: The Bears defensive line against the Panthers offensive line. Bryce Young is prone to mistakes and he has taken 26 sacks so far this year. The anemic pass rush of Chicago has to get home against him and force him to turn the ball over.

The Panthers’ defensive numbers in terms of yards and passing defense are good on paper, but they’re allowing a lot of points. Much of that is due to the Panthers offense giving their opponents a short field.

For the Bears’ offense, run the ball. The numbers suggest that’s the way to go and whether it’s Tyson Bagent or Justin Fields, keep it on the ground and let that set up play action and bootlegs.

Key stats

  • This is the last Bears home game until Dec. 10 against the Lions.
  • The Bears are undefeated this season on Thursday Night Football.
  • Two of Matt Eberflus’s five career wins as Chicago’s head coach have come on non-Sundays (.500 win percentage on days other than Sunday - .143 on Sundays).
  • Carolina ranks 31st in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score on 75 percent of their red zone trips.
  • However, their third down defense ranks sixth, allowing 34.7 percent of their opponents' third downs to be converted.
  • The Panthers rank 31st in takeaways.
  • Carolina has allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the league.
  • According to Pro-Football Reference, the Panthers have the second-most missed tackles in the league.
  • Adam Thielen has 15 more receptions than DJ Moore but 125 fewer yards.
  • Panthers opponents have the second-best starting field position in the league, starting on average on their own 31.9-yard line.
  • The Panthers have the second-fewest takeaways in the league with 7. The Bears have the second-most turnovers in the league.

What will it take for the Bears to win Thursday? Can they win a second Thursday night game against the Panthers?