Key Matchups as Bears Look to Hunt Down Some Panthers
This week we will observe one of natureís great rivalries, Bears (3-1) vs. Panthers(0-4) and break down the key matchups. It will be a true battle for dominance between a wise old grizzly, Bears QB Todd Collins and a young cub, Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen. The two will lead their packs into the wild kingdom that is Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.
The Bears have their reputations on the line as a real contender in the NFC, but will be without their alpha male, QB Jay Cutler (concussion). The Panthers, after losing their first four games, limp into week 5 and will most likely be without their ferocious WR Steve Smith (injured paw). They will have to rely on two young kittens, WR David Gettis and WR Brandon LaFell, to protect the Pantherís home den. Letís take a look at some key matchups that will help decide this week struggle for NFL survival:
Bears DE Julius Peppers vs. Panthers LT Jordan Gross
The Bears are known for their sharp defense that mauls opponents, led by ex-Panther DE Julius Peppers(2 sacks in 2010), who will be looking for revenge on his former pack mates. You can expect a glorious battle between Peppers and Jordan Gross, who cut their NFL teeth together while facing off during practices, before Peppers left Carolina. They have studied each otherís moves and will be stalking each other throughout the game on Sunday. If Gross cannot protect against Peppers attack, it will spell a bitter end for Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen.
Pantherís SS Charles Godfrey vs. Bears TE Greg Olsen
While the Bears passing game was eaten alive last week, they will look to get it back on track this Sunday against a team with only 4 sacks. Bears TE Greg Olsen (179 Yards, 2 TD), appears to be growing into the grizzled threat they had hoped for when they drafted him in 2007, but he will have to look out for the keen vision and timing of Panthers SS Charles Godfrey (3 INT). This battle will match stealth against raw power and only one of these beasts will feast in the end. Look for Olsen to have a lot of looks from Collins.
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams and Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart vs. Bears Run Defense
Last week, the Giants were the first team this season to shoot holes into the Bears run defense, which went into hibernation late in the game. The Bears were left licking their paws and ultimately cut DE Mark Anderson earlier this week and signed former Saint DE Charles Grant. Also, look for Bears LBs Brian Urlacher (30 tackles, 1 FF, 2 FR) and Lance Briggs (28 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR) to protect the middle of the field against any intruders. The Panthers are on the prowl this week with Williams (266 rushing yards, 1 TD) and Stewart (162 total yards, 2 TD), hoping to tear up the field again on the Bears. However, you can expect the Bears to find their predator instincts once again and prey on the Panthers running game, which has no passing game to compliment it.
So come Sunday, the two fierce carnivores will meet to wage an epic endurance struggle while still nursing some old wounds. Which team can overcome adversity and take a leap forward in their season? The Panthers have nothing to lose, while the Bears cannot afford a defeat. We can only wait and see if the Bears can show that they belong atop the NFL food chain.