Friday, September 12, 2008

Points of Interest on a Friday

In my last blog post, I said UNC had a legit shot at a nice road win at Rutgers, and I picked UNC to win by 6. I meant, POINTS, but they were trying to make it touchdowns. Hats off to the Heels for taking care of business on the road. Rutgers has been good in recent years, but last night, once Carolina got rolling, Rutgers looked lost, and completely out of sorts. Carolina did a nice job of bouncing back from a less than stellar performance against McNeese State--yes, they won, but against McNeese St., the score should look like their win over Rutgers. Good win to build from heading into next week against Virginia Tech.

OK, NFL matchup time...

Chicago v. Carolina, Sunday 1pm.

CHI offense v CAR defense

The Bears possess one somewhat legit weapon, in RB Matt Forte. I say "somewhat " because he has just 1 NFL game under his belt. Still, it was a solid game against Indianapolis last Sunday night. QB Kyle Orton doesn't frighten anyone. He is more known for his pictures on the internet of him holding near full bottles of liquor than for his QB skills. Granted, his skills as a game manager are quite good, but don't ask him to beat the opposition, because he can't do it. Carolina's prime objective is to slow/shut down Forte. If they can do that, Orton will try and find anyone in the open, but considering the Panthers speed at LB, and the way the secondary can cover a lesser opponent (San Diego had loads of offensive weapons, the Bears..not so much)... Advantage: Carolina

CAR offense v. CHI defense

In the opener with Indianapolis, the Bears looked like the Monsters of the Midway, from back in the day. Question is this: Is Chicago that good, or was Indy that bad? For the Bears being good argument: They were good. Got great pressure up front, bottled up running lanes, and made life very uncomfortable for Peyton Manning. That is what they are supposed to do.

Here is where we introduce the Indy being bad part. Manning didn't take a snap in live game action all pre-season as he recovered from knee surgery (removal of a bursa sac). He was rusty, and frankly looked like Eli Manning in his early days. The Colts also lost RB Joseph Addai to a head injury, and TE Dallas Clark to an injury as well. Taking out Clark and Addai is akin to taking out Ladanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates from the Chargers lineup. Had LT and Gates not played Carolina last week, Dante Rosario would be a tight end, and the Panthers would have rolled San Diego.

In the end, it was a combo of good (but not great) Chicago D, and bad (but not atrocious) Indy offense. Carolina's offense looked good through much of the game with San Diego, but abandoned the run in the 3rd quarter in the name of balance. Forget that stuff, gang. Dance with the date that brung ya. If running it works, run it. Carolina has to try and pound the ball on Chicago's D on Sunday. This should be the best matchup on the field. Advantage: Push

Special Teams

Wow, this is fun. Devin Hester for Chicago is the best return man in the game. Period. Dangerous and a threat to score when he touches the ball. Carolina can not let him touch the ball. Rhys Lloyd has to boot it through the endzone every time, and Jason Baker has to kick it to the corners, or out of the endzone as well. Yes, Hester is THAT GOOD. Carolina's special teams coverage hasn't exactly set the world on fire, so play to the strength of Lloyd's leg, and Baker's ability. Otherwise, the Panthers will get burned. Carolina had Jonathan Stewart returning kickoffs, and Mark Jones on punt returns. Both are adequate, but they aren't Hester. Advantage: Push, but leans slightly towards Chicago.


Going into this game, I give the edge to Chicago. Carolina showed some fairly bad clock managing skills against the Chargers. Lovie Smith's biggest problem against the Colts was Hester trying to fake out an entire coverage team by returning a kick from 7 yards deep in his own endzone, and being tackled at the 3. Advantage: Bears


Carolina turned heads last week by beating SD, and they continue to make them spin by beating Chicago 27-13. A 2-0 start without their best player, Steve Smith, as he serves a 2-game suspension. For those that are interested, Smitty is keeping a blog of his own with Athletes United for Youth. You can see it by clicking here.

Mike Solarte

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