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Panthers-Bears matchup of the day: Friday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

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

Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Bears' pass defense

The Bears are ranked among the league's worst pass defenses (26th) and the Panthers are tied with the Lions' for the league's fourth-highest ranked passing attack.

The disparity in the rankings could lead us to believe the Bears are in danger of getting shredded by QB Cam Newton Sunday. He's capable of producing big numbers and the Panthers are not shy about throwing the ball — deep, short and between — but it would be no surprise if Chicago's cover-2 defense gives the rookie problems and creates at least one turnover. The Jaguars played a lot of two-deep zone against Newton and the Panthers in Week Three, and it worked pretty well against him. The Jaguars held him to 158 yards passing after he threw for more than 400 in each of the first two games. Rain was a factor, too, of course.

The Bears will drop seven into coverage most of the time and play their two safeties in deep zones to discourage Newton from testing them with long passes to WR Steve Smith, whom Bears fans remember very well from his 218-yard performance in the playoffs at the end of the 2005 season. Newton often will be faced with the decision to check down to a running back or take a chance against a defense looking to create turnovers. One of the best pass rushers in the game, DE Julius Peppers, is going to be attacking off the edge, and Newton could be hurried on a regular basis.

Newton has the ability to be an effective runner and pick up yards with his feet. He has averaged eight rushes per game and rushed for touchdowns in each of the first two games, but the Bears usually do a good job of keeping contain and will force Newton to try find yards up the middle.

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