Smith is playing his best football. He finished with 324 yards and three touchdowns. The defense is a strength, and the pass rush brought down Deshaun Watson three times. And special teams, particularly returner Tyreek Hill, is a real threat.
You want to be able to run the ball successfully because it takes the pressure off your quarterback, and it also makes your play-action a lot more effective, said Rivera, who played for the Bears and is 1-2 against his former team as a coach. It’s two-fold. We’ve got to be able to get things back on track.
Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey has provided a spark out of the backfield, but mostly for his hands. He leads the team with 37 receptions and has scored touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Neither team has performed well in turnover margin, but something has to give this weekend. The Bears rank second-to-last in the league with a minus-8 turnover margin, and Carolina is fourth-to-last at minus-6.
The Panthers will play on 10 days’ rest after losing 28-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night. They are 3-0 on the road this season, which makes them one of five teams that are unbeaten away from home.
This marks the 10th all-time meeting between the teams. Chicago holds a 5-4 edge but lost the most recent matchup in 2014 as the Panthers held on for a 31-24 victory.
My favorite stat to look at when looking at matchups is third down success rate. The Eagles defense is fifth best on third downs, while the Panthers offense is second in the NFL on third down.