Panthers Look to Get it Going in Right Direction vs Da Bears
By Charles Jay
In the NFL odds that have been posted at BetAnySports on the Bears vs Panthers game, Carolina is a slight favorite at home:
Carolina Panthers -2.5 (-115), Chicago Bears +2.5 (-105)
Over 46 Points -110, Under 46 Points -110
After winning the NFC South title last season and gaining much praise for their defense in the first two games of the 2014 campaign, the Carolina Panthers have seen things go downhill in a hurry. They have been walloped at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers and on the road by the Baltimore Ravens. So as you can imagine, they are thankful to get out of the AFC North, or at least get a one-week respite from it (they play Cincinnati next week). On Sunday they will take on the Chicago Bears, who had their own difficulties last week with one of the NFL’s hottest quarterbacks. They are thankful they won’t have to go through that again, but they have some other difficulties to address if they are going to beat the NFL odds in this 1 PM ET kickoff at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Some of the talk from savvy football bettors was that Carolina had some weaknesses that were going to be exposed sooner or later. It seems that time has come. They do not, after all, have a bruising running game, as evidenced by 3.1 yards per carry. And they just can’t stop the other team from running the ball down their throat. Last week’s 38-10 loss to Baltimore came as a result of the Panthers giving up 454 yards of offense.
Meanwhile, the Bears were able to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers for a little while, and even held a 17-14 lead at one point, but Aaron Rodgers took over in the second half. He threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns, negating what was actually a decent effort on offense by Chicago. The 38-17 defeat left coach Marc Trestman with some things to think about.
Chicago gained 496 yards against Green Bay last week, and they were pretty balanced in the process, with 235 yards on the ground and 256 coming off the arm of Jay Cutler. They also had 33 first downs in the game. There is no question that they can move the football. And Carolina does seem handicapped by the absence of defensive end Greg Hardy, who is sitting out of suspension that is related to domestic abuse. For a team that allowed only 241 points last season, Carolina does not look like it is going to come close to those numbers, as they have given up 75 in the last two games alone.
BetAnySports customers who have become conditioned to the idea that Carolina is a team that can ground it out against an opponent are surprised when they look at the raw numbers. This team only has 284 rushing yards in four games, and DeAngelo Williams, a veteran who has been with this team for quite some time, is nursing a bad ankle. There are not a lot of alternatives. It would be one thing if Cam Newton was not limited by injuries to his leg and ribs, but the fact is that the quarterback who was once one of the most potent dual threats in the league must be careful taking chances running with the football.
NFL odds bettors know the openings are there in the Chicago defense; they are not very stout against the run (4.7 yards per carry allowed), and a capable passer can do a lot of business against them. This team is allowing 8.2 yards per passing attempt, but certainly Chicago does not expect Newton to complete passes with the same level of efficiency that Rodgers did.. BetAnySports customers know that Carolina is not the kind of team that is going to scare you with a lot of receivers. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has had a nice season so far (21 receptions, 329 yards), but aside from tight end Greg Olsen, there is not a whole lot to make a defensive coordinator nervous. That is the opposite of Chicago situation, as Cutler has up to five viable receiving options he can access at any given time.
Maybe that’s the difference in this game; the Panthers appear willing to allow Chicago to attain the balance that they want, and probably are not equipped to get into a shootout. Could Ron Rivera, who won many coach of the year awards last season, actually be on the hot seat? If the Panthers get smacked around the way they have been the last two weeks, you can bet on it. Maybe you already have.
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