The Bears have talked a lot this week about the Panthers’ two-pronged rushing attack of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. But quarterback Cam Newton is Carolina’s leading rusher with 273 yards and a 5.9-yard average.
Newton also torched the Bears for 374 passing yards last season, so they can’t overplay the run too much. But all three Panthers rushed for more than 700 yards last season, the first time that’s ever happened in NFL history. Even more impressive, all three players averaged at least 5.4 yards per carry in 2011, when the NFL average was 4.1
Throw in Bear-killing wide receiver Steve Smith and former Bears tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers’ No. 2 receiver in receptions and yardage, and this doesn’t look like a 1-5 team – at least not on offense. Despite their record, the Panthers are No. 6 in average yards per run and No. 7 in average gain per pass.
If the Panthers don’t turn it over, they’re dangerous. It might be time for the Bears’ offense to step up this week and give their defense a break.