2. Cam Newton seems to be back on track after a rough patch. What can the Bears expect from him and the Panthers passing attack?
A lot depends on the health of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The Panthers big outside wide receiver left practice yesterday with a swollen knee and is questionable for the game on Sunday. If available, he keeps Chicago from focusing solely on Devin Funchess and tight end Ed Dickson. Both have played really well, Newton included, but have benefitted from Benjamin being on the field.
Coach Ron Rivera has also addressed the need for more of a down the field passing attack as opposing teams recently tend to stack the box against Carolina. On Sunday, expect Newton to continue his high level of play with an increased role for both rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard in the passing game.
3. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey has gotten a lot of pre-draft and offseason publicity. How has he looked so far with the Panthers and what can the Bears expect from him?
Christian McCaffrey looked good during the preseason and often was just a few steps from breaking multiple big plays. Unfortunately, a similar dynamic has carried over into the regular season as McCaffrey has not had any breakout games but consistently provides opportunities for the Panthers offense.
His impact can also be observed even when he doesn’t carry or catch the football. Opposing teams are aware of his capabilities and must take into account where he is at all times. For these reasons, his rushing stats may not be inflated but his presence has been a definite boost to the offense. Recently, McCaffrey has developed into more of a pass option for Newton ranking fourth in the NFL in red zone receptions, fifth overall for all receivers and leading running backs with 37 catches through six games.