After an uplifting victory in Week 8, the Carolina Panthers fell back down to Earth upon a brutal loss to the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. So, how can they get back in the win column against the Chicago Bears tonight?
Here are four key matchups that could put the Panthers on top of this Thursday night clash:
Panthers QB Bryce Young vs. Bears QB Tyson Bagent
The Heisman-winning first overall pick from collegiate powerhouse Alabama versus the undrafted free agent out of Division II Shepherd University makes for one heck of a story, doesn’t it?
Both Young and Bagent have looked promising in the early portions of their career, but are coming off costly performances doomed by poor ball security. So it certainly feels like whichever rookie has the better game, especially against a pair of shaky defenses, will ultimately decide the outcome of this matchup.
Panthers CB Donte Jackson vs. Bears WR DJ Moore
Does former Panthers receiver DJ Moore seem like a revenge game kind of guy? Well, we sure hope not, because he faces off against a secondary that has been ravaged by injury.
It’s likely that Moore sees a bunch of Jackson, whom he saw a bunch of during practice over his five years in Charlotte. So, in turn, Jackson may have some tricks up his sleeve as well.
Panthers OLB DJ Johnson vs. Panthers' lack of depth
The edge rusher position has become a barren wasteland for Carolina. A spot that was already considerably weak has taken shot after shot of late—as Brian Burns, Justin Houston and Yetur-Gross Matos will not be suiting up for this one.
With so many injuries, Johnson is likely to see his playing time increase even more. The third-round pick played in a career-high 50 percent of defensive snaps in Week 8 and then promptly set a new mark with 71 percent in Week 9.
The rookie may also get a bit of help from Frankie Luvu, who can be used off the edge as well. Other than that, the Panthers could have Amaré Barno and Eku Leota at their disposal.
Bears HC Matt Eberflus vs. Panthers' draft position
A part of March’s blockbuster deal between these two teams sent Carolina’s 2024 first-rounder to Chicago. So, of course, the Bears are extra motivated to snatch a victory to increase the value of that pick.
Conversely, Carolina—or at least the powers that be—are equally as motivated to stop that from happening. So while some may say that haven’t thought about the draft implications of this matchup, you can’t help but keep those in mind on Thursday night.