Game of the Week

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by jeff beyel






     Chicago Analysis:  After several seasons of being in virtual incognito, the wires are now alive with post-game reports and talk of “Minshew Mania” all around Chicago these days!  And the banter is well deserved.  After-all, Chicago has knocked off traditional NFC Central powers, Green Bay and Minnesota, in back-to-back weeks to start the season and have now positioned themselves as the clear favorite in the division.  The Aforementioned QB, Gardner Minshew,  has thrown 40 or more passes in each of the first two games without suffering a single sack playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the game. The trio of WRs Deandre Hopkins and DJ Chark along with TE Dallas Goedert have been tremendous snagging 13, 8, and 7 passes respectively.  Hopkins leads the group with 13 receptions for 169 yards although he does not have a TD catch as of yet.  The Bears lead the league in first downs averaging 25.5 per game.

   Defensively, the Bears have been consistent.  So far, though, they have not recorded an interception and the team has just 3 sacks.  Still, opposing signal callers have not had it easy completing only 59.5% of their passes for an 87.4 QBR.  They are only allowing 86 YPG rushing although the 4.3 YPC average could be a bit of a concern.  The secondary, especially the corners, will get its sternest test to date facing the Panther wide receivers.  CBs Gareon Conley and Rock Ya-Shin do not match up well with the Carolina attack and it gets thinner when the Bears need to also stop third wide Sammy Watkins.  S Justin Simmons will not be able to shift over to give help since he will have his hands full with TE Evan Engram.

   Carolina Analysis:  Coach Doug Crandall always seems to get the most out of his clubs but, all too often, his teams have not been able to reach the promised land or win many divisional crowns.  This could be their year especially if they can get by Chicago.  The Panthers are traditionally known for their rugged defense and conservative offense but, so far anyways, Carolina has displayed a penchant for some offense to go along with the defense.  QB Jimmy Garoppolo has played beyond expectations completing 73.3% of his passes for 563 yards and 6 TDs.  RB Chris Carson has been a horse rushing over 20 times in each of the first two games for 202 yards.  Like Chicago, the Panthers have had three big targets doing much of the receiving duties.  WRs Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett, and Sammy Watkins have piled up 30 receptions for 454 yards and 5 TDs.

    This game is likely going to come down to the Panther front 7 against the powerful Chicago offensive line. If Carolina cannot get pressure on Minshew or stop the running game, they will probably lose.  OLB Leighton Vander Esch is out and his absence does not bode well for the Panthers. In addition, DE Olivier Vernon is also injured although Dee Ford can do the job.  A big key will be if Carolina sustains more injuries as this game unfolds.  The Panther secondary is very good but will need to find a way to slow down Hopkins .

Final Analysis:  An intriguing game for sure.  Carolina has not met an opponent like Chicago this season while the Bears have shown they belong with two big wins over quality programs. Just feel the Bears have posted better numbers versus better competition.  Still, Crandall is always a tough out and is likely to make this one a battle.  Chicago 24-21.