WEEK 6: Panthers aim for 4th straight win against Mack, Bears

WEEK 6: Panthers aim for 4th straight win against Mack, Bears
(WSOC)

CHARLOTTE — Panthers running back Mike Davis said the key to his success this season has been that he “runs angry.”

Carolina is 3-0 with Davis as Christian McCaffrey’s temporary replacement. Davis has reason to be even angrier Sunday when he faces his former team, the Chicago Bears.

>> It’s a big day in uptown as the Carolina Panthers gear up to host voters and the Chicago Bears. On Panthers Gameday LIVE at 11 a.m. on Channel 9, we’re breaking down the keys to extending the team’s winning streak.

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The Bears released Davis last November, in part because they felt he didn’t fit the offensive system and because parting ways with him meant they’d get a compensatory draft pick. The Bears ended up using that pick, No. 140 overall, to acquire quarterback Nick Foles in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But Davis said he’s not using the snub as motivation.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to run angry,” Davis said. “I’m going to always do that. The emotions, don’t try to make the game bigger than it is. Be me. Don’t go out there and make stupid penalties that affect the team.”

The Panthers are on a roll, beating the Chargers, Cardinals and Falcons in succession to rebound from an 0-2 start and move into a tie with Tampa Bay and New Orleans for first place in the NFC South.

Davis has been a big part of that turnaround.

Since McCaffrey went on injured reserve, Davis has racked up 351 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns in three starts. McCaffrey could return next week, but for now Davis will continue to carry the load.

“I think he’s running with tremendous physicality,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “He’s not getting tackled by the first tackler. I think we found some runs that he feels really comfortable with and I think there’s just great second effort, great yards after contact. That’s the mark of a good back.”

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Here are some things to watch from the Bears-Panthers game:

PANTHERS INJURIES

The Panthers could be without three starters on the defensive line.

The team placed two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with a shoulder injury, while edge rushers Brian Burns (concussion) and rookie Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) are dealing with their own issues and didn’t practice Wednesday.

Carolina’s pass rush has produced three strip-sacks in the past three weeks, but hasn’t been a dominant force overall. Carolina is 29th in the league in sacks and is 30th in third down defense. Getting pressure and getting off the field could be an issue for the Panthers if Burns and Gross-Matos don’t play.

COMEBACK KINGS

The Bears have been the NFL’s comeback kings. They joined seven other teams with three wins in the first five games after trailing by 10 or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when they beat Tampa Bay last week. Chicago trailed 13-0 in the first half on the way to a 20-19 victory. The Bears also staged big fourth-quarter comebacks in the first and third games, rallying from 17 down at Detroit and 16 down at Atlanta.

The offense has been a sticking point so far. The Bears switched quarterbacks, with Nick Foles replacing Mitchell Trubisky during the Atlanta game. But with the Super Bowl 52 MVP starting the past two weeks, they still haven’t clicked the way coach Matt Nagy would like. He lit into the offense after the Tampa Bay game, upset about incorrect route-running, lapses in blocking technique and missed chances for Foles.

“The players truly understand what our standards are here, with this offense and obviously you look at the lack of production right now and the lack of scoring and where we’re at,” Nagy said. “We know. We’re trying to figure out the answers of where things are and how we can get better and score more points and be more productive to make it easier on our defense.”

UNDERDOG BEARS

Despite being 4-1, the Bears enter the game as 2 1/2-point underdogs to Carolina.

“I dunno about the underdog status,” Foles said. “I think the mentality is we’re not dwelling on our record at all; our record means nothing to us. We know where we need to get better, and a record is not going to do that.”

MEMORABLE GAME

Bears safety Eddie Jackson made NFL history facing Carolina as a rookie in 2017 when he returned a fumble 75 yards and an interception 76 yards for touchdowns. That made him the first player with multiple defensive TDs of 75 yards or more in the same game. And the Bears beat the Panthers 17-3 at Soldier Field.

“I don’t really dwell on that game as much,” Jackson said. “It’s a new team for them. New offense, new quarterback. New everything. New system for us.”

ANDERSON’S SUCCESS

The Bears will have to make sure to defend wide receiver Robby Anderson, who is off to an impressive start with the Panthers since being acquired as a free agent from the New York Jets. Anderson is fourth in the NFL in receptions (36) and yards receiving (489) after five games and is proving that he’s more than just a deep threat.

CHICAGO (4-1) at CAROLINA (3-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Panthers by 2 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Bears 3-2; Panthers 3-2

SERIES RECORD - Bears lead series 6-4

LAST MEETING - Bears beat Panthers 17-3 on Oct. 22, 2017 at Carolina

LAST WEEK - Bears beat Buccaneers 20-19; Panthers beat Falcons 23-16

AP PRO32 RANKING - Bears No. 13; Panthers No. 16

BEARS OFFENSE - OVERALL (27), RUSH (27), PASS (23).

BEARS DEFENSE - OVERALL (9), RUSH (16), PASS (10).

PANTHERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (6), RUSH (14), PASS (5).

PANTHERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (14), RUSH (25), PASS (4).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Bears QB Nick Foles has thrown for two or more TD passes in three of his past four road games, one of those with Chicago. ... Bears RB David Montgomery is coming off a career-high seven receptions and 59 yards from scrimmage against Tampa Bay. ... Bears WR Allen Robinson tied a career high with 10 receptions for 90 yards last week. Since 2019, Robinson ranks fourth in the NFL in catches (133). ... TE Jimmy Graham has caught a TD pass in his last two road games. ... Bears LB Khalil Mack has 14 career multi-sack games. Mack had a sack, forced fumble, fumble return and touchdown in his only career game against Carolina when he played for the Raiders. ... The Panthers have won three straight games after losing 10 in a row. ... Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater has completed 75 of 102 passes (73.5%) for 824 yards with five TDs and one INT during the team’s three-game win streak. ... Carolina’s offensive line has not allowed a sack in its last two games. ... The Panthers have 120 first downs, the most through five games in franchise history. ... Panthers RB Mike Davis has totaled 351 yards from scrimmage and scored three TDs in three starts filling in for 2019 All-Pro Christian McCaffrey, who is expected to miss this week as well. ... The Panthers are dealing with injuries to four defensive starters: DT Kawann Short (shoulder, done for season), DEs Brian Burns (concussion) and Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) and CB Donte Jackson (toe). ... Carolina has allowed just 57 points in its last three games after allowing 67 in the first two. ... The Panthers are 29th in the NFL in sacks per game and 30th in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 50.8% of their opportunities. ... Fantasy tip: Panthers WR Robby Anderson has at least 99 yards receiving in four of five games this season. With teams likely to pay more attention to Anderson, look for WRs D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel for breakout games. Moore had 93 yards receiving and a 57-yard TD last week against the Falcons.