CHICAGO – It was clear that defense and special teams were going to play a big role Thursday night as the offenses of the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers were unstoppable. In the end, the Bears’ defense was decisive in a 16-13 victory.
It was a game that featured the key pieces of a blockbuster offseason trade, when the Bears sent the no. 1 overall pick in the draft for Carolina DJ Moore And a package of picks, including the Panthers’ first pick in 2024. The Panthers used it to draft a quarterback Bryce YoungWho didn’t do enough to get Carolina’s second win.
Not many games fall into the “must win” category for a team with seven losses. Considering what’s at stake with the Bears, who own the Panthers’ first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Thursday’s results were important in gauging current growth and future draft position.
Bears have significantly increased their chances of scoring. 1 overall pick. According to ESPN Analytics, the win gives Chicago a 42% chance. 1 pick, the most in the NFL.
After holding Chicago to three field goals in the first half, coach Matt Eberflus declared his Bears “had a few things up our sleeves” in the second half. While the magnitude of those things is debatable, the Bears did enough to win on a night in Week 11 when Iberflus’ defense showed significant signs of improvement.
The Bears have 10 days before traveling to Detroit to face the 6-2 Lions and could very well have a quarterback. Justin Fields Back under center for the first time since October 15.
The original series: Chicago’s defense clamped down on Carolina’s second drive in the third quarter with a six-yard tackle for loss and sack to break up a three-and-out. The offense, which didn’t make it into the end zone in the first half, took advantage of a rare opening in plus-territory at the Panthers’ 38-yard line and later took the lead for the first time. D’Onta ForemanHis 4-yard rushing touchdown capped a nine-play, 38-yard scoring drive.
Promising trends: A Chicago Panthers QB ends its two-game streak without a sack Bryce Young Three times on Thursday. The Bears entered Week 10 with a league-low 22% drop back at quarterback. In the first half, Young was pressured on 9 of his 17 drop backs (53%), the Bears’ highest pressure percentage under Matt Eberflus. That number evened out in the second half (33%), but Chicago’s pass rush showed improvement as it held the Panthers to 3-of-15 on third down. montage sweat Had a team-high five pressures, the first Bears defender with five pressures in a game since 2021. — Courtney Cronin
Next game: at Lions (1 p.m., ET, Nov. 19)
Rookie quarterback Bryce Young and the Panthers’ offense weren’t built for prime time.
Just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse the previous week when Young threw two pick-sixes, it did against the Bears. There were no pick-sixes or interceptions, though there could easily have been three or four.
There was a level of mediocrity that could make a case for head coach Frank Reich to take back playcalling duties.
Carolina (1-8) has scored just two touchdowns in three games since Thomas Brown took over the playcalling duties. But it may just be an overall talent issue. The Panthers struggled offensively when Reich plays were called as well, but not to this level
QB breakdown: For the second straight game, Young took a step back. He had just 63 yards passing in the first half and 45 of those came in one game. He came into the game with an NFL-worst 29.6 total QBR and that won’t improve. Young finished 21 of 38 for 185 yards.
Buy a breakout performance: Third-year wide receiver Mike Strachan. The 6-foot-5 player out of Charleston (WV) was in Carolina practice and he made an impact in his first game off the practice squad with a 45-yard catch in the first half. He could be the missing deep threat.
A troubling trend: The Bears have found the secret to shutting down the Panthers’ offense: having wide receivers Adam Thielen. He was held to six catches for 42 yards, making Carolina’s most consistent weapon essentially a non-factor.
Bold predictions for next week: The Panthers will make some changes on the offensive line, possibly moving to center Bradley Bozeman To the left guard. Young has been under constant pressure this season and much of that has come from the middle. –David Newton
Next game: vs. Cowboys (1 p.m., ET, Nov. 19)