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WEEK 10 CRYSTAL BALL - THURSDAY: Carolina, Chicago Square Off
My friends, I know folks aren’t excited about tonight’s matchup. The Bears (2-7) and Panthers (1-7) have three combined wins. Both head coaches are under fire. Neither quarterback situation is on solid footing. And Christian McCaffrey is a good 2,000 miles away.
The clubs made a splash in March when Carolina sent stud wideout D.J. Moore and four draft choices to Chitown in exchange for the #1 overall pick, which became QB Bryce Hall, late of the University of Alabama. Moore has played like a star while the rookie, Hall, has struggled, as youngsters often do.
Moore and Hall won’t play another often going forward as the teams have met just 11 times since Carolina entered the league in 1995. Chicago holds a 7-4 advantage and their last meeting was in 2020 when the Bears beat the Panthers, 23-16. Cue the music: it was the last of QB Nick Foles’ three wins for Chitown.1
In addition to the Moore trade, there are actually several interesting connections between the franchises:
—John Fox was head coach of both organizations, leading Carolina for nine seasons (2002-10) and Chicago for three (2015-17).2
—Former All-World defensive end Julius Peppers is the most notable player to suit up for both franchises with other prominent names including tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad.
—Commies head coach Ron Rivera held the same role in Carolina for eight-plus seasons (2011-19) after playing and coaching a combined 14 years in Chicago.
But that, of course, is in the past. Let’s fast forward to this season - and tonight - as the Bears travel to Carolina for the 8:15 pm ET kickoff. Vegetable-hater Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will call the action on Amazon Prime Video.
That’s right, folks. The venerable Michaels, 78, claims to have never knowingly eaten a vegetable. That’s nearly eight decades of meat, bread and bang-your-fist-on-the-wall constipation. Of course, THE TRE MAN - not one to take the long view - would eagerly swap his nightly vegetables for the gut pain that comes with a severe bowel obstruction.
If eating veges gives my son a “Groundhog Day” feeling, imagine how Carolina and Chicago feel at game time this season. Darn near every week is a disappointment and they’ve been outscored by a combined 140 points.
The Bears are down a handful of starters, including QB Justin Fields, but the Panthers are without their best player, edge rusher Brian Burns, and that feels like a big deal. It could be a breakout game for rookie passer Tyson Bagent who, at worst, has one of the league’s best sleeves of tattoos.
My confidence level in these offenses is minimal but, scoring be damned, let’s roll with the home team3 and see what happens. Call it 16-14, Bears.
Enjoy the game and God bless!
Did you even remember that Foles played for the Bears? How about the Colts? The Chiefs? Jacksonville? Indeed, in 11 pro seasons, the Super Bowl LII Most Valuable Player averaged just three wins per season, finishing 33-31 (.516), including 4-2 in the playoffs. He made one Pro Bowl and, outside of his two stints in Philadelphia (2012-2014, 2017-18) was 8-18 (.308) in his career. But no one is forgetting that Super Bowl victory. Heck, it’s all that TOMMY BIRD has.
Fox is actually in the top 30 all-time in regular-season wins (133) and playoff victories (8), ranking 28th and tied for 25th, respectively. And I had no clue that he’s currently the senior defensive assistant with Dee-troit, the 19th stop in his 46-year coaching odyssey.
THE GURU’s season mark stands at 88-49 (.642).