The Chicago Bears head to North Carolina for a football game of the meekest proportions. Following a complete meltdown in New York the Bears are just 1-point favorites to beat a hapless Panthers team with nary a star on its roster. What should you expect from Sunday's game? Glad you asked:
Pour us a Todd Collins: With Jay Cutler out, the Bears are starting a new quarterback for the 14th time this century. Collins is a veteran at stepping in when he is needed, but has only started 20 times in his 12-year career. But Collins does have one important former Bear in his corner: Da Coach. Mike Ditka cast his vote of confidence for Collins on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" yesterday, saying the Bears can win without Cutler.
Make Running his Forte: Part of the reason the Bears' running game has been so bad is that it simply has not been used enough. Out of the 1,157 yards gained by the offense, only 23 percent have been on the ground. The Bears have to start relying on Forte (and Chester Taylor) now so that when the temperature drops and the winds begin to howl at Soldier Field, the running backs will already be comfortable on the field.
An 0-4 team? Just what the doctor ordered: After a demoralizing loss like the Meadowlands Massacre, the Bears needed to face an 0-4 team. They're in luck, as the Panthers are not just 0-4, but opponents have outscored them by 41 points. Their defense, ranked 21st in the league, is not nearly as bad as their offense, ranked 32nd in the league. They've also been bitten by the injury bug, as top receiver Steve Smith won't play due to an ankle injury. The Panthers will rely on running back DeAngelo Williams, who has averaged 4.8 yards per carry this season.
Repent, Mike Martz: The offensive coordinator took all the blame for the offense's terrible performance last Sunday, saying that he tried to get too much done in the shortened week of preparation before the Giants game. There is only one way to make up for this, Mike. Change your ways. Instead of cramming an offense on a team who can't handle it, adapt for the players you have.
Mama, I'm Comin' Home: For the first time since signing with the Bears, Julius Peppers is going home to play, and lining up against old friend Jordan Gross. Peppers still has some lingering bad feelings about his old team, so look for him to use both his familiarity with the offensive line and anger to spark a big game.
Weather: Sunday's high in Charlotte is a balmy 86 degrees, with low winds and 61 percent humidity.