In a Week 6 matchup that could have playoff seeding implications down the road, Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears take on Teddy Bridgewater and the Carolina Panthers. After an impressive victory over the Buccaneers, the Bears are looking to continue their strong start to their season and improve to 5-1. The Panthers have been a relative surprise at 3-2 on the season, with many expecting the Matt Rhule-led team to experience more of a rebuilding phase. This game has the potential to be an absolute barn burner, so let’s get right down to business.
For the Bears, there seemed to be significant growth and accountability this past week. While Nick Foles struggled with some easy throws early on, he delivered when it mattered most against the Buccaneers in Week 5. It was far from perfect, but Foles led the offense into field goal range to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Matt Nagy seemed frustrated with the scheme in his weekly press conference, which may be a sign that things could change from a play-calling standpoint. This could mean an increased role for running back David Montgomery, who has failed to garner many carries the past two weeks.
For the Panthers, the team has seen a career year so far from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He’s come a long way from losing his job in Minnesota due to injury, and many hope this could be a sign of things to come. His weapons have played a large part in this resurgence, with receivers such as Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel quickly becoming one of the dangerous deep-threat trios in the league. With star running back Christian McCaffery missing time due to injury, Mike Davis has stepped up and produced in his absence.
|Per Game Stats (Offense)||Bears||Panthers|
|Points||21 (27th)||24.4 (20th)|
|Total Yards||323.2 (27th)||399.6 (6th)|
|Passing Yards||227.8 (23rd)||281.8 (5th)|
|Rushing Yards||95.4 (27th)||117.8 (14th)|
For the Bears, the defense had their breakout game against a top tier offense last Thursday. Kyle Fuller forced a key late-game fumble, Khalil Mack was manhandling offensive linemen, and Eddie Jackson was laying the wood. All season, this unit has put their meat on the table and kept the team in every game. The struggles on offense have been far from unnoticed, but Chuck Pagano’s defense has kept the Bears from being run out of town.
For the Panthers, it’s been a mixed bag on defense. Luke Kuechly retiring was a massive blow to an already lacking defense. Linebackers Shaq Thompson, Tahir Whitehead, and rookie Jeremy Chinn have shown a lot of promise, but the weakness has come in the running game. This sets up nicely for a breakout performance from David Montgomery and the Bears offense… hopefully.
|Per Game Stats (Defense)||Bears||Panthers|
|Points||20 (4th)||23.6 (20th)|
|Total Yards||344 (9th)||356.4 (15th)|
|Passing Yards||230.8 (10th)||223 (5th)|
|Rushing Yards||113.2 (16th)||133.4 (25th)|
Per usual, I am joined by fellow Bears On Tap contributors Kevin Gora and Aalap Desai to give our X-Factors of the week.
Duke: S Eddie Jackson
“Eddie Jackson had the quote of the week when he stated that he is ‘disappointed’ with the Bears defense. It’s a bit controversial considering how well the defense has played this season, but it’s certainly not surprising. Eddie Jackson has always been a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder and his comments have me expecting a huge game. Matched up against an offense that looks to explosive plays in the passing game, expect Jackson to be in prime form against Teddy Glovehands.”
– Duke Coughlin (@ThatPodGuyDuke)
Kevin: The Rushing Offense
“After the first two weeks, David Montgomery was off to a great start. He posted 64 yards against the Lions and 82 yards against the Giants. He was averaging over five yards per carry over that span, but that figure has since dipped to under three yards per carry. His struggles haven’t been limited to just himself. The Bears’ offensive line has been struggling, but this game can become a confidence booster for the run game. The Panthers’ defense allows over 133 rushing yards per game and they have given up a total of six rushing touchdowns already. If Montgomery can capitalize on the Panthers’ weakness, it will allow him to have a big game.”
– Kevin Gora (@kevingora21)
Aalap: RB David Montgomery
“This is Montgomery’s breakout game… it has to be. The Panthers are allowing 133.4 yards per game rushing. To add injury to insult (yes, I’m aware that’s not the correct saying), Carolina suffered a massive blow to their defense. They’ve lost their starting defensive tackle, Kawann Short, for the season due to a shoulder injury. Nagy and Foles have to feed David Montgomery. It’s his time to shine.”
– Aalap Desai (@ADesai410)
Duke: 24-14 Bears (4-1)
“As Kevin and Aalap stated in their X-Factors, it’s time for the rushing offense to take off. The Panthers have struggled mightily against the run all season and it seems like the best bet for success this week. While the names don’t jump off the paper, the Panthers’ secondary has been tough, which means Nick Foles has to make the layups. I trust the Bears defense against a big play-dependent offense, but this game can quickly get out of hand if the Bears are forced to air it out. This is a very winnable game, but similar to the Colts, the Panthers are not a team to look past.”
Kevin: 27-17 Bears (3-2)
“The Bears enjoyed a mini bye week after their Thursday Night Football contest, so they have had extra time to figure out their offensive issues. Due to that fact, expect the Bears’ offense to be moving better than it did in the Week 5 win. The Panthers have given up 23.6 points per game on average each week. I think Foles can figure it out offensively as he did at the end of the Week 5 game against the Buccaneers. Expect Montgomery to have a breakout game after struggling these past few weeks. The Bears’ defense will hope to contain Panthers quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, as much as they can after his hot start on the season. If the Bears’ defense can do that, then Chicago should notch another win to become 5-1 and secure another mediocre spot on everyone’s power rankings, despite their great record.”
Aalap: 24-21 Panthers (4-1)
“The 1972 Miami Dolphins can unclench. I finally took my first loss of the season. I thought the Bears were going to get their doors blown off last week. They didn’t, and instead found a way to beat Tom Brady. As for this week, I have no feel for this matchup so I’ll let the numbers predict this game for me. Here is how I arrived at my score prediction: the Panthers score 27.2 PPG and allow 20.8 PPG. Meanwhile, the Bears score 21.0 PPG and allow 20 PPG. I took the average of Panthers points scored/Bears points allowed and it came to 23.6 (~24). Vice versa, Bears points scored/Panthers points allowed average came out to 20.9 (~21). Yay numbers!”
That does it for the On Tap Sports Net crew’s Week 6 preview. The Bears and Panthers kick off at 12 PM CT on Sunday, October 18th. The game will be broadcast on FOX. For further analysis and commentary on all things Bears, be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast.