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Bears-Panthers matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week Five game between the Bears and Panthers.

Panthers' offensive line and running backs vs. Bears' run defense

The Bears were tough vs. the run, holding teams to 63 yards rushing or less in each of the first three games, before the Giants gashed them for 189 in Week Four. They'll need to get back to their prior form in a hurry to keep Panthers RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who haven't been as productive as expected, from breaking loose.

The Panthers' running game sets up their passing game, and establishing the rushing attack will take a lot of pressure off rookie QB Jimmy Clausen.

It's likely that Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will put at least eight defenders in the box frequently. With WR Steve Smith expected to be out with a high ankle sprain, Carolina's passing game is far less threatening, and moving a safety, most likely Chris Harris, closer to the line of scrimmage could help clog up running lanes for Williams and Stewart.

Bottling up the ground game will put Clausen in predictable passing situations, and Carolina doesn't have a proven deep threat to stretch the field.

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