The NFC North leading Chicago Bears host the underachieving Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field this Sunday afternoon in a Week 8 matchup that could get ugly in a real hurry. The contest is probably the last stop on the Panthers' road to an early off-season as Chicago boasts the leagues' top defense this year, and not just from a fantasy perspective. In fact, the Bears are the only team in the league that has still yet to give up 100 points against this season (78 to be exact). We've got some game projections courtesy of numberFire.com to help you figure out your best options for this matchup.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera isn't take his team's 1-5 start sitting down as he has finally decided to change things up at the running back position. Jonathan Stewart will benefit from the aforementioned changes as he has been named the
team's starter against the Bears. Stewart is more than capable of catching passes out of the backfield and is averaging a healthy 4.1 yards per carry this season. The move not only increases Stewart's fantasy value but also means D'Angelo Williams is now the highest paid backup running back in the NFL.
Perhaps the Panthers' change of pace at running back will benefit star quarterback Cam Newton, who won't have to worry as much about leading the team in rushing. Considering the way the Bears have been playing, a few sacks and
interceptions are probably in order for Newton. At the same time, you just know he'll be airing it out when the Panthers fall behind so he could very well end up putting up a nice fantasy total.
As for the Bears, it's safe to say the fantasy community is well aware of what their defense is capable of. They lead the league with five touchdowns scored thanks to the leadership of Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Forte should be in for quite a nice afternoon. The fifth year running back out of Tulane has averaged over 150 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns in three career games against Carolina. Receiver Brandon Marshall saw a team-high 10 targets against the Detroit Lions last Monday and scored his fourth touchdown of the season. Marshall now has amassed at least six catches and a touchdown in each of the last three games and there's no reason to think that success won't continue this week.
Although Jay Cutler can be quite up and down, the Bears as a team have been rolling so he should be able to put up serviceable numbers and see his team through to their sixth win of the season.