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Bears to Face Panthers

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 9, 2006 8:37PM

Having earned a first round playoff bye, the Chicago Bears probably spent Sunday the same way Chicagoist did -- on the couch watching a little football. While we were trying to recover from our Mexican vacation-induced football withdrawal, the Bears were watching to find out who they'd welcome to Soldier Field next weekend.

By dominating the New York Giants 23-0, the Carolina Panthers earn a trip to Soldier Field this coming Sunday.

Should the Bears fear the Panthers? While they beat the Giants both offensively and defensively yesterday, Chicagoist believes the Bears will fare better. The two teams played during the regular season, with the Bears winning 13-3 as the Bears defense sacked Jake Delhomme 8 times and intercepted him twice. And they held the running game to just 55 yards.

The lack of run defense helped kill the Giants yesterday, as their depleted linebacking corp contributed to Carolina racking up 223 yards on the ground. We have a feeling NFL Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher and fellow Pro Bowler Lance Briggs won't allow them anything close to 200 yards.

2006_01_sports_lovie.jpgWhile Carolina's showing yesterday has caused many to jump on their bandwagon, we have a feeling coach Lovie Smith will have his team ready come Sunday. Smith silenced all doubters during the regular season, winning the Coach of the Year Award after taking his team from 5-11 in his first year as head coach to 11-5 this year. Most picked the Bears to finish at the bottom of the NFC North and be among the worst teams in the league -- and that was before Grossman got hurt. Those critics may want to remain quiet lest they again underestimate Smith and the Bears.