by Chris Lovi - Columnist NFLWeather.com | 10-28-2012 13:05
The Carolina Panthers travel to Illinois to take on the Chicago Bears. NFLWeather.com forecasts a 20 percent chance of showers, partly sunny skies with a high near 48. Despite the fair weather, a small chance of showers could affect how this game could be played at historic Soldier Field, known for having one of the worst all-natural grass surfaces in the league.
Carolina’s defense is hampered with injuries. With half of the Panthers defensive line questionable, it is going to be hard for Carolina to get a legitimate pass rush going. Even though Jay Cutler (ribs) is coming off an injury himself, there are enough weapons on the Bears offense to pick up most of the slack. If rain becomes an issue, running back Michael Forte will see a heavy dose of carries along with backup Michael Bush who keeps a tight grip on the ball. Soldier Field’s slick surface could mean a lot of short plays for the Bears offense. However if skies clear up, Jay Cutler could have all the time in the world to hang in the pocket until Brandon Marshall creates separation.
Carolina’s offensive game plan should be simple rain or shine, establish the run. Panther’s offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski needs to take pressure off of his quarterback Cam Newton. Even though the Bears rank first in the league against the run, Carolina has enough talent in their backfield to challenge them. Rainy weather would be beneficial for the Panthers offense if they can get the bootleg option going and keep Chicago’s powerful defense off-balance. Expect both D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to get at least 20 touches combined while Newton will keep the ball for a few first downs and extra yardage.
This is an important game for both teams. Keeping the ball is key. Chicago’s defense is creating enough turnovers to become a fantasy football dream team. The Bears must maintain momentum if they want to stay atop of the NFC North. The Panthers need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Rain will most likely limit offensive capabilities for both sides. In the end, it is going to come down to turnovers, in which case the Bears defense has the advantage on and off the field. It will be a great day for a hot brat in Chicago.
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