The NFL prime time slate continues to be a let down this season as fans tuned into a Thursday Night Football game featuring two teams with three combined wins and 15 combined losses. The now 1-8 Carolina Panthers took a trip to Soldier Field to duel with the now 3-7 Chicago Bears to culminate one of the most boring games of the year ending in a 16-13 win by the home Bears.. These two cellar dwelling teams combined for 11 total punts, five field goals, and only two touchdowns. The Panthers’ only touchdown came by way of a 79 yard punt return from Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Rookie quarterback and number one overall draft pick from the 2023 NFL Draft, Bryce Young, continues to have a tough time adjusting to NFL defenses after going 21/38 for 185 yards and being sacked three times. Chicago did not get any better quarterback play from rookie Tyson Bagent who finished 20/33 for 162 yards. The lack of experience between these two signal callers made for a defensive battle and which punter could stick their kicks closer to the goaline. Both of these teams will be looking forward to having top five picks in the 2024 Draft and will continue to be bottom three teams in the league.
Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers continue to go through major growing pains as Young keeps struggling without a solid running game and receiving core to back him up. Chuba Hubbard only had 9 carries for 23 yards last to round out a team total of 43 rushing yards. If Bryce Young is going to have any chance of being a franchise quarterback, Frank Reich and the Panthers need to get Young an offensive line that can dominate the line of scrimmage and establish the run. Bryce Young was forced to throw the ball 38 times as a result of the inability to have any sort of ground game. Adam Thielen, Young’s favorite target, hauled in 6 receptions for 42 yards in his worst performance of the season. The Panthers had an opportunity to tie the game with under two minutes left but Eddy Pineiro missed his 59 yard field goal attempt. If head coach Frank Reich does not make drastic improvements on their offensive line this offseason, the Panthers will continue to be a bottom three team in the league. Carolina welcomes the Cowboys next week who should give them their ninth loss of the season.
Tyson Bagent and the Chicago Bears now have three wins in a season that was pretty much abandoned after week 1 starter Justin Fields injured his thumb and has now missed five games. Bagent has been a feel good story for the league as he went undrafted and played Division 2 football in college. Check downs and field goals were the majority of the scheme for the Bears in this 16-13 win due to the lack of experience from their signal caller. D’Onta Foreman had another noticeable game; 21 carries for 80 yards and the Bears only touchdown. Tight end Cole Kmet had a come back to earth game after his two touchdown performance last week; 5 receptions for 45 yards, while D.J. Moore hauled in 5 receptions for 58 yards. Justin Fields should be making his return next week when the Bears travel to the NFC North leading Detroit Lions which will give Kmet and Moore a major boost in offensive production. Fields needs to prove that he is still the franchise quarterback for the Bears, if they want to believe it. I would not be surprised to see Fields dealt out of Chicago, as the two as a partnership have not worked out very well. Expect the Lions to blow out the Bears next week regardless of if Fields is under center or not.