After stunning the football world with an upset of the Indianapolis Colts, the Chicago Bears look to repeat the process again this week against the Carolina Panthers. The Bears have the unenviable task of playing two tough games on the road to open the season. Luckily the Bears were able to defeat the Bears, arguable the toughest opponent this season. With that in the bag they turn to Carolina.
Mentioning the Panthers to any Bears fan invokes horrid memories of Steve Smith carving up the field and humiliating the defense. This contest is guaranteed to haven’t a different result because Steve Smith will not be available for the Panthers. He has been banned for two games as a result of a fight during training camp and gives the Bears defense a big sigh of relief.
The real storyline of the week is the match up against ex-Bears Muhsin Muhammad who will have to assume the role as primary target for Jake Delhomme. The Bears have established a history with Muhammad from his three years with the team. His departure turned ugly recently when Muhammad made comments that Chicago is where receivers go to die in the NFL. While there have been recent struggles for Bears receivers, there is nothing that suggests a good receiver can’t excel in the Bears system. Now the Bears offense will be motivated to prove him wrong and the Bears cornerbacks will have extra motivation to shut down Muhammad every time they try to get him the ball.
Looking ahead to the Panther offense, the Bears will take the exact same approach they used against the Colts. The Bears will stack eight men in the box and shut down the run, forcing Delhomme to make plays in the passing game. On offense the Bears will look to establish the running game and use short pass plays to keep drives moving and control the clock. The advantage is the players know the game plan can result in success against the best teams in the NFL, the disadvantage is the Panthers will study the tape from the Panthers game very closely and prepare.
The Panthers are recovering from their own shocking win in week 1 against the Chargers and will be looking to repeat those results. Without Steve Smith the Panthers have the harder challenge of finding a way to move the ball against the Bears defense that held a highly potent Colts offense at bay. The second road win will be a tough one for the Bears but they should be able to pull it off.