A few notes about Sunday's Chicago-Carolina game, and why I think the Panthers will win it:
-- I’ve had more than 100 responses on my blog and via my personal e-mail address to a question I asked online earlier this week in this blog: Will you cheer or boo Julius Peppers Sunday?
It’s a totally unscientific sample, but it is interesting.
-- It’s hard seeing your ex with another guy at the same party, but that’s what will happen to the Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Based on my responses, my guess is about 40 percent of the people in the stadium will boo Peppers, about 30 percent will cheer (with some wearing old Peppers No.90 jerseys as signs of support) and another 30 percent will not do much of anything because they have mixed feelings about how everything went down.
-- The Panthers caught a break this week when it was announced Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler couldn’t play in this game because of a concussion. Cutler has a big-time arm he can beat you with, while his 38-year-old backup Todd Collins is more of a game manager.
-- With the Bears giving up an astounding 10 sacks last week, it will be interesting to see how often Carolina blitzes Collins today and tries to create some turnovers. Jimmy Clausen is really going to need some short fields to work with if he’s going to create much on offense.
-- The Jordan Gross vs. Peppers battle will be a great one to take binoculars for and focus on, but remember that Peppers won’t match up against Gross on every down. Peppers said this week he has the freedom to pick what side he wants to rush seconds after breaking the huddle – a freedom he rarely had in Carolina and one of the things he likes most in Chicago.
-- I’d like to see Armanti Edwards both active on Sunday (looks like that will happen) and running from the “Mountaineer” at least a couple of times (who knows whether that will). Hey, with this offense, the Panthers need a few gimmicks.
-- Will this be the week rookie wide receiver Brandon LaFell finally breaks out for Carolina? We keep waiting.
-- I’m 3-1 picking the outcome of Panthers’ games so far this season, and I’m about to go out on a limb.
I think Carolina’s talent level really isn’t that much different from Chicago’s despite the two teams' records. I think that the Panthers, as bad as they have sometimes been this season, will get something going today, especially with their running game. I think the Panthers' defense can make the Bears struggle just enough. I think Carolina has the desperation factor in its favor.
My prediction: Carolina 17, Chicago 16.