Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/22/12
Carolina at Chicago Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 704 *TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa *Keys to the game: The Panthers' offensive line isn't opening enough lanes for a triumvirate of running backs that have been successful in previous seasons -- DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. With that group averaging 68.1 yards per game, QB Cam Newton is asked to do a lot on his own on third downs. Carolina converts just 31.7 percent and the Bears are one of the NFL's best in third-down defense. Chicago can be methodical moving the ball behind a beastly offensive line, and the Bears have had little first-quarter success. The Panthers placed CB Chris Gamble on injured reserve and must assign safety help against Brandon Marshall. As a result, the front seven gets the difficult responsibility of contending with RBs Matt Forte and Michael Bush without a safety net. Secure tackling is mandatory, but hasn't been a strong suit for Carolina the majority of the season. *Matchup to watch - Bears WLB Lance Briggs vs. Panthers TE Greg Olsen: Olsen has 19 receptions in the past four games. With defenses bracketing WR Steve Smith to curtail explosive plays, Newton's ability to lay the ball over the top of the linebackers and in front of the safeties with accuracy will be a major third-down turning point. *Player spotlight - Bears FS Major Wright: Though he earned regular votes of confidence from coach Lovie Smith, Wright is a better athlete than safety at this point in his career. His range and speed can lead him to the ball -- or take him out of position, especially against quarterbacks who keep plays alive with their feet. *Fast facts: The Bears have won all three regular-season meetings at home. ... The Panthers are 14-3 when RB Jonathan Stewart has 15-plus carries. WHO WILL WIN AND WHY The Bears are one of the most complete teams in the NFL and bag their third win over Carolina in three seasons on the strength of a defense that can contain the run and force QB Cam Newton to use the medium-range passing game, where his accuracy has been off-kilter. *Our pick: Bears 27-17
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