October 2nd, 2011
by bearsbacker

The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers will meet for the seventh time ever today. The two teams are tied in the all-time series 3-3.

The Bears were able to beat the Panthers in Carolina last season 23-6. That game marked the return of Julius Peppers to Carolina,  he was on the other side for the first time ever.

Today, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera returns to Chicago for the first time since he coached the Bears defense in 2006. Also, tight end Greg Olsen returns to Soldier Field for the first time to face the Bears.

Olsen, so far this season with the Panthers has 12 receptions, 169 yards and one touchdown. The Bears will need to contain him because he will likely be out for revenge after being traded this off-season.

In 39 offensive drives through the first three games, the Bears have scored five touchdowns, and six field goals, but punted 21 times and had four drives end as the result of a turnover.

Rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher has scored a touchdown in two consecutive games and is looking to make a bigger impact in his third week playing out of the slot.

The Panthers have never won a regular-season game in Chicago. The last time they won a game at Soldier Field was in the 2005 Divisional Playoffs.

Putting together manageable third downs will be a key for the Bears, last week they converted only three of 12 third down attempts. Marion Barber’s return will help the team out.

They will need to find a way to use Matt Forte and Marion Barber in the backfield at the same time. It could benefit the offense tremendously having both of them out there together.

The Bears will also need to find ways to attack Darius Butler, who is starting in place of the injured Chris Gamble (concussion).  The Bears offense is clearly going to be the focus of today’s game from the fans view. The defense is healthier with the return of Major Wright, so that could help them out in  the back end.

RB Marion Barber and guard Lance Louis will be back on the field for the Bears today as well. Inactives for the Bears today are T Gabe Carimi, WR Earl Bennett, S Chris Harris, QB Nathan Enderle, DL Mario Addison, TE Matt Spaeth, and DT Stephen Paea.

Players Who Must Step Up:

1) Kellen Davis- Matt Spaeth is out with a calf injury, so Davis will be the main tight end with undrafted rookie Kris Adams getting some time as well. With only three catches and 55 yards and one touchdown, Davis needs to be more of the player the Bears wanted to start this year over opposing tight end Greg Olsen.

Predictions: Three catches, 40 yards.

2) Tim Jennings- He is probably the most consistent tackler on the team. He is steady, but he needs to make an interception or force a fumble to pump up this Bears defense. Look for him to be on a mission today.

Predictions: Seven tackles, one interception.

3) Devin Hester- He needs to make the big play on offense or special teams. He is greatly needed, hopefully he can bounce back from a disappointing week against Green Bay.

Predictions: Five catches, 60 yards.

Who will win?

Bears 30, Panthers 17.

Weather Forecast:

It will be sunny with temperatures steady near the low 60s. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. Should be a nice October day at Soldier Field.

For more news on Twitter, follow @Bearsbacker.

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