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The Panthers' passing attack sputtered last week when they faced a very good Jacksonville defense. Once the terrible weather conditions rolled in, it was evident that Cam Newton wouldn't become the first player ever to throw for 400 yards in three straight games.
Nonetheless, we have seen what Newton's capable of, and it's become clear what Chicago's secondary is incapable of—that is, covering tight ends. Through three weeks, Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham and Green Bay's Jermichael Finley have all torn apart the Chicago defense.
This is a weakness that Carolina can exploit. They have two great receiving tight ends in Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey. Both have caused problems for defenses and they will be particularly important this week.
The Bears have little depth at cornerback as well, so this could be a break-out week for Brandon LaFell or Legedu Naanee. Naanee has been a disappointment so far, but with the Bears' only solid cornerback, Charles Tillman, lined up on Steve Smith, Naanee will have a chance to turn his luck around.
If Jeff Otah is able to play, which is looking likely, protecting Newton will not be much of a concern. The Jacksonville defense couldn't manage to get any pressure on Newton last week. When this offensive line is at full health, it is one of the league's best. In its first week at full health, it allowed no sacks and only one hit on Newton.
They key will be slowing down Julius Peppers. If you rough him up early, it will often throw his game off and allow Newton to feel more comfortable in the pocket. It won't be easy for him to pick up yardage on scrambles, though. Chicago has a very athletic group of linebackers and Julius Peppers is always tough to beat to the edge.