On paper, there's no way Carolina beats the Bears Sunday. But when it comes to judging a game just by the numbers, maybe we should think about those words of wisdom from one of my all-time favorite sportscasters, Brian Fantana, as he referenced, another type of...um... Panther:"Sixty percent of the time, it works every time."A 1-5 record creates a formidable scent. Quite pungent. It leaves young quarterbacks verbally fumbling in postgame press conferences, and costs general managers their job after ten years of service.But as my co-host on "Bears Blitz," Dan Jiggetts, duly noted on Thursday's show on Comcast SportsNet, take a closer look at four of those five losses (excluding the 36-7 Can of Thursday Night whooping they were handed by the Giants in Week 3):They dropped their opener by just six points in Tampa Bay against a Buccaneers team that's now piling up as many points as anyone the last three weeks. They led the still-unbeaten Falcons in Atlanta 28-24 in the 4th quarter before losing 30-28 on a game-ending field goal. Their real back-breakers have come the last two weeks at home, with another pair of close defeats: 16-12 to Seattle and 19-14 to Dallas (after leading 14-13 in the 4th). So they've been "in" every game but one.The problems have been on offense, scoring more than 14 points just twice. With the way the Bears defense is playing, that looks encouraging for Sunday on the lakefront.
But Carolina has more than 20 million in salary cap space on injured reserve, and still has Bears-killer Steve Smith, one of two players the defense has to prove it can contain. The other is Cam Newton, who embarrassed them a year ago. Opponents this year have generally slowed the sophomore quarterback's learning curve. The Bears need to add themselves to that list as they come off this short week before a suddenly tougher-looking date next Sunday in Tennessee precedes the Houston-San Francisco-Minnesota stretch. The signs say "blowout," but Ron Rivera's teams have found a way to hang around opponents.Speaking of the Vikings, perhaps they underestimated Tampa Bay Thursday night. Lovie Smith's teams have rarely wound up getting burned if and whenever they may have done that. The Buccaneers came in 2-4 and losers of nine straight road games. The Vikings were probably penciling in a 6-2 record. Instead, they're 5-3, and now hoping the Panthers can do the same thing to the 5-1 Bears Sunday.
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