PFW associate editor Dan Parr makes his prediction for the outcome of Sunday's game between the Panthers and Bears.
Only a disastrous day by the offensive line or Jay Cutler can hold the Bears back Sunday, and it would be foolish to rule out either of those scenarios playing out.
Chicago's defense should be able to hold up its end of the bargain against a Carolina offense that likes to feature the passing game and take shots downfield. The Bears' cover-2 has been vulnerable to getting beat by tight ends this season, and Greg Olsen will have a productive day against his former team. The Bears will keep WR Steve Smith bottled up, however, and Cam Newton will throw at least one interception.
The Bears are a better team than the Panthers, but not so much better that they can overcome a multi-turnover game by Cutler, who threw two interceptions against the Packers. The Bears need to play ball-control offense. Matt Forté should have more room to run than he did against Green Bay, and the pass protection cannot afford to regress to its Week Two form against a very good DE tandem in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.
This may not be a must-win game for the Bears, but calling it one isn't as much of a stretch as you might think.
Prediction: Bears 27, Panthers 20
Season record straight up: 2-1
Against the spread: 0-3