Well, I’m 2-1 on the year, having picked the Panthers last week 23-16. This week’s game in Chicago against Da Bears is loaded with storylines off and on the field, so let’s take a look at some of them:
1) Which Bears team will show up on Sunday, the one that blew out the Falcons week 1 or the group reeling from two double digit losses weeks 2-3? Is this a team/QB on the edge of imploding, or one that will bounce back to duplicate last year's successful season and playoff run?
2) Will Mike Martz prove to be our best friend on Sunday? The Panthers’ greatest vulnerability on defense seems to be against a strong run game. The Bears’ offensive coordinator has once again been becoming a pass-happy play caller. Will he call an all-passing game plan and will that play into our hands? Or will he remember the success Matt Forte had on the ground against the 2010 Panthers and switch things around on Sunday?
4) How will the Panthers’ team and QB handle the trip to Chicago? This is just the second road trip for the young squad in the 2011 season, and playing in Arizona might be considered a cake walk compared to those boisterous Bears fans of the Windy City.
5) How much of an emotional edge will the Panthers have in trying to win one for Coach Rivera? Remember how the Panthers won some big games for Coach Fox going against the Giants? Of course Peppers and Harris will be playing against their old Panthers team, and Greg Olsen the same for the good guys as well.
6) How much fun should it be watching Julius Peppers vs. Cam Newton?
Can I make a daring statement? If the Panthers pull this one out, they can be a contender to make the NFC playoffs. A W in Chicago against the Bears would be the confidence boost they need to believe they can take on a challenging remaining schedule and hold their own. But if they do not win, I also believe that a 1-3 start will probably mean the Panthers will not be in this year’s playoff hunt. So yeah, this is a big game, a pivotal game for this young Panther team.
And speaking of young, I’m ready to make my pick for this week’s game. With my heart I want to pick the good guys to win. And it’s a tough call. I could see a blowout either way, or a close game. But here’s my pick:
The Panthers will play the Bears tough. But they are a young team in a tough place to steal a win. One day we will win this kind of game. But I don’t think we are there…yet. In a heartbreaking end of the game Robbie Gould FG,
Bears 24 Panthers 23.
If the Bears play a good game, they will prevail. If they don't, I can see us stealing this one, and will be pulling hard against my own pick!
That’s how I see it. What about you Panthers fans? How do you see this Sunday’s game? You make the call,
Let’s hear it!