My brother-in-law Mark texted me to say if only the Bears were in the
AFC north division, if only…they were in the worst division in football.  That said, Pittsburgh will improve as the season goes on and still be one of the toughest outs in the AFC playoffs.

The game plan the Bears had against Baltimore and should’ve had against Minnesota, won’t be enough against Carolina.  Cam Newton makes Carolina one of the toughest teams in the league to beat with his ability to extend plays and drives with 3rd down conversion rates among the highest in league history.  It will help the Bears that they  might be getting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski back and that Carolina is losing their’s with Luke Kuechly entering the league’s concussion protocol for the second time in two season’s.

Former Bears linebacker and defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera is among the league’s best head coaches and believes in a balanced attack on both sides of the ball.  In what could be sloppy conditions, the Panther’s will be ready to stop the run.  Pass defense is the weakest part of their team, but with Bears Mitchell Trubisky making only his third pro start, the Bears are ill equipped to take advantage.  Head coach John Fox will once again have to dive into his bag of tricks and find some mis-direction plays that will take advantage of the Panthers overplaying the run.  There will probably be a lot of bootleg plays called by coodinator Loggains that might get Trubisky hurt.  Let’s hope not, and hope that they instead use two back sets with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen together to keep the Panther defense off-balance.

On defense the Bears must play disciplined ball and control the middle of the field with multiple players spying on Cam Newton and rooking running back Christian McCafferty.  Whichever quarterback makes the most plays wins, until the kickers screw up.  Carolina has the better kicker.

Panthers 20, Bears 18