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Carolina Panthers vs. Chicago Bears Point Spread - Pick

Carolina Panthers (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS)
Week 7 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CAR -3/CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 40

The Carolina Panthers come to Soldier Field on Sunday for a week 7 NFC matchup with the Chicago Bears. The Panthers get a long week after a Thursday Night Football game where they were beaten by the Eagles, 28-23. At 4-2, they look to stop the bleeding this week in a tricky road spot against the Bears. On Sunday, the Bears managed a 27-24 overtime road win over the Ravens. It was Mitchell Trubisky's second start, as they rode the legs of Jordan Howard to their second win of the season. Their 4-2 ATS record this season says a lot about the Bears and while they might not impress week in and week out, they are a dangerous X-factor any week for any team.

Carolina was beaten at home by a good Eagles team last Thursday, but after a great start to the season, a win here is critical as to not blow the good momentum created in the first five games of the season. Cam Newton played hard on Thursday, but mistakes were costly. The defense was also leaky on occasion, but the loss was not the kind that should draw that much concern, as the Eagles played really well. By the same token, there are some issues to watch moving forward. Injuries have also been an issue, with the loss of TE Greg Olsen and C Ryan Kalil (questionable) on offense and LB Luke Kuechly again being in concussion protocol.

It seemed like not enough people were helping Cam Newton on Thursday, as he also led the way with 71 yards rushing and a TD. He had 52 pass-attempts and that's a little out-of-range for Newton. His three picks were not all his fault, with only one the result of an errant pass. But it underscores the inconsistency of his receiving crew, led by Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Ed Dickson is filling in for Olsen and after a big game the previous week, he was quiet on Thursday. Christian McCaffrey hasn't done much on the ground, but with ten more catches on Thursday, he was again a useful pass-catcher. But when thinking of good Carolina offenses, the run-game was a big part of it and outside of Newton, they haven't gotten much in that department as of late.

While the Eagles moved the ball with some ease, the Panthers' defense wasn't all that bad, allowing a total of 305 yards. They got a turnover with the pass-rush leading to a Carson Wentz fumble. They are typically pretty stout against both the pass and run, with a lot of big-play ability. The injury to Kuechly is upsetting and we'll see later in the week if he's a go or not. They are tough in the middle up-front with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, with Mario Addison and Charles Johnson on the outside. Old DE Julius Peppers is still a handful and has been playing well. The middle is a great asset with Kuechly and Thomas Davis, along with Shaq Thompson. The secondary has been stout with James Bradberry and Daryl Worley at the corner and Mike Adams and Colin Jones. But one interception through 6 games isn't nearly enough.

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The Bears got off to a good start on Sunday, taking a 17-3 lead over the Ravens, before being forced to hang on and get the win in extra-time. They used a little trickery on offense, while getting some big plays on defense. While numbers-wise, Trubisky has failed to impress, he seems to have a nice touch as starting QB, with a narrow loss to Minnesota and a road win in Baltimore in his two starts. They nearly blew it, especially on special teams, when a long punt-return for a TD by the Ravens and a two-point conversion set up OT, but late in the extra period, Chicago's Connor Barth hit a FG from 40 yards to seal the win.

Early in the game on a trick play, Tarik Cohen hit TE Zach Miller for a TD to take a 10-0 lead. Trubisky later hit Dion Sims for a 27-yard TD, but the rookie was quiet aerially for the most part, with just 113 yards on 8-for-16 passing. The heavy lifting was done by Chicago back Jordan Howard, who ran for 167 yards on a workhorse-like 36 carries. Twice in the last four games, he has had monster games and they look for more of that this week. They have a nice TE combo developing in Sims and Miller. And when not making a lot of noise with his arm, Trubisky has shown himself to be nimble and productive with his feet in the right spots.

The Chicago defense has been up-and-down this season, exploitable in some spots and stout in others. In the last few weeks, they have been fairly solid. And on Sunday, they saw some big-play ability finally manifest. After securing no interceptions in five games, they got two on Sunday, with Adrian Amos returning one 90 yards for a TD. Bryce Callahan had another. The middle made an impact, with Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, and Akiem Hicks all registering sacks. Despite the lack of big plays, the secondary has been quite stout, as credit goes to Prince Amakamura, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, and Amos. The Chicago "D" could be a little more clutch and play better late in games, but based on the last two games, they're heading in the right direction.

This is a tough spot for Carolina, a road spot where they could see things come less easier than they have at times this season. They are still looking to get back on the winning track after the loss at home to the Eagles. Defensively, they offer the type of balance and big-play ability to give Trubisky and Company a lot of problems. Conversely, they could see their offense struggle in this road spot against a Chicago "D" that has grown pluckier throughout the season. I see a scrappy game, with Newton and Carolina finding a way at the end.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers minus 3 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Panthers vs. Bears game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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