We’re getting ready for the Panthers’ visit to Soldier Field by exchanging a few questions with Taylor Barbour of Cat Crave, FanSided’s Carolina Panthers site. Here are my Q’s and his A’s::
1. Cam Newton has been pretty impressive as a rookie. Has he exceeded your expectations so early in his career? What can Bears fans expect to see from him on Sunday?
Newton has exceeded expectations without a doubt. He has been pretty unbelievable this year for a rookie that was handicapped by the lockout. He has done everything the Panthers could ask of him. He has keep them in games and finally won a game last Sunday. So yes, I am very impressed with him.
As for what you will see, I am sure the Bears defense will try to contain him and not let him hurt you with his legs, but if they don’t bring pressure on him he will hurt you because he has extraordinary arm strength and will find an open receiver. Expect a lot of passes down field and for him to find the tight ends a lot.
2. What do you think of Ron Rivera as head coach so far? Do you think his knowledge of the Bears defensive scheme gives the Panthers any added advantage?
I like what I have seen from Rivera. The defense looks pretty good even though it is playing without its top two linebackers and has rookies at defensive tackle. So based on his personnel I think he is doing great.
As far as coaching as a whole he has done a good job. The offense is not predictable as it was with John Fox here and the players seem to be enjoying playing for him.
3. If the Panthers win on Sunday, what will we be talking about on Monday? Why can they win?
It will be all Newton. With the Bears defense I don’t expect this will be a game where the running game goes nuts. I think if the Panthers win it will be because Newton has a huge game. He will need to find Steve Smith a bit more than last week and the defense will have to get to Jay Cutler a lot. But if they can get that pressure on him and Newton can make a few big plays I think the Panthers have a chance.
4. Who is an under the radar Panthers player that Bears fans might not know yet, but will make a strong impression on Sunday?
I am going to go with wide receiver Brandon LaFell. LaFell is the team’s slot receiver but has made some big plays this year. With all the attention Smith and the tight ends are getting LaFell should have a few good matchups and could make some big plays down the field.
5. What’s your prediction for the game? What’s the final score?
I hate to do it but I think I am going to pick against the Panthers. I do think they have a chance but being on the road against a great defense like the Bears will be tough on Newton. But the Panthers will keep it close, lets say 24-17 Bears.
Be sure to visit Cat Crave to check out my answers to his questions.