By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Opportunity is once again within the reach of Chicago Bears as they travel to Carolina and square off against the Panthers this Sunday.
By no means a slouch this year, this Panther team (3-2) remains just as questionable with its winning record and first place standing tied atop the NFC South as people have assumed the Bears are with their 4-1 record.
Overall, on paper, it looks like this is a good match-up for the Bears and a prime chance to get back to running the football effectively. You have to figure that the Bears defense is at their most confident after a strong showing against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay. Hopefully, the Monsters will continue their steadiness or even build on their efforts.
After a 10-day layoff, hopefully head coach Matt Nagy and the rest of the coaches used that time to figure out ways that can improve this team in some key areas that has plagued them. A win this week pushes the Bears to 5-1 and a very enviable spot for any NFL team six weeks into the season.
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Get Running — A couple games in a row of tough run defenses really exposed the Bears lackadaisical rushing attack. This match-up should provide a chance to turn the run game around against a run defense in the league’s bottom third. However, will Nagy and the players execute remains a big question.
Convert Your Conversions — Still plaguing this Bears offense is its inefficiency, to put it mildly, on third down. Third down is the money down and if the Bears want to not look like the “brokest” of winning teams they must find a way to up their conversion rate and keep their offense on the field.
D-Fence — This Bears defense has to be feeling good about the progression they have steadily made through the first five weeks, leading up to a downright 2018-like performance against Tampa Bay. Takeaways and sacks returned to the lake front last week, can the defense now travel with that swagger down to Carolina?
Perfect Conditions — A lot of time off and a rash of COVID issues have put the Bears in a better position than the Panthers in terms of preparation for this game. It’s now the job of the Bears to emphatically showcase their advantages talent-wise and preparation-wise this Sunday.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR