Can the defense feast on the struggling Panthers offense?
The Chicago Bears' defense has improved this season. After ranking 31st against the run last season, they now rank third in yards, sixth in touchdowns, and number one in yards per carry. Despite that, the passing defense still has a way to go. They rank 28th in yards, 32nd in touchdowns, and 19th in interceptions. The lack of pass rush has a lot to do with the struggles against the pass.
We saw the defense do a big job to keep the team in the game on Sunday. When a team is -5 in turnovers, it usually means that the game is a blowout. When an offense continually turns the ball over it does not bode well. Though the Bears lost, the fact that the offense had that many chances to tie the game was incredible.
The Bears face a Panthers team that struggles offensively, however. They traded away not only draft picks for the number one pick but also their best wide receiver, DJ Moore. Their run offense ranks 24th in yards and 30th in touchdowns. That means the Bears' defense should shut down that aspect of their game. Their passing game ranks 27th in yards, 17th in touchdowns, and 18th in interceptions. Additionally, the Panthers offensive line has allowed just one less sack than Chicago's. The Bears rank 30th in sacks allowed with 30 and Carolina ranks 29th with 29 (seems like a typo but it isn't).
If the Bears do shut down the Panthers' running game and force top overall pick Bryce Young to try to pass his way to victory then the pass rush might have a big day. If the Bears pressure Young, he could make mistakes and commit some turnovers. We saw how Bagent folded when the pressure of trying to have a game-tying drive took a toll on him.
The Chicago Bears' defense is set up to have a big game against this Carolina offense. The Bears need to take advantage of this and overwhelm the Panthers. The run defense will likely have a big game. That means it is about time for the pass defense, especially the pass rush, to do its job.