Here is a look at hypothetical propositional wagers between the Bears and Panthers.
First team to score
Bears. Much like their 1995 expansion partner Jaguars, the Panthers do not have a good scoring offense, ranked 28th in points per game. The Bears held the Jaguars to just three points a few weeks ago and nearly shut out the Lions, and while it’s nearly impossible to predict a shutout in the NFL, it’s not unlikely the Bears can keep the Panthers off the scoreboard for a while. Look for early Bears points.
First Bears player to score
Brandon Marshall. The Panthers secondary can be beat and it’s clear that Jay Cutler likes to look for his favorite target when they get down to red zone, even checking out of run plays if he has to.
More touchdowns or field goals for the Bears
Touchdowns. Barring any bad weather conditions, the Bears offense should be able to light up the scoreboard in this one. The run game should play a prominent role and Matt Forte and Michael Bush could have a nose for the end zone.
Number of catches by Brandon Marshall
7. Marshall is averaging just under 7 catches per game this season and he’s in for a treat against a soft Panthers secondary.
More touchdown passes or interceptions by Jay Cutler
Push. Minus the four-interception debacle against the Packers in Week 2, Cutler has taken care of the ball this season. In the team’s five other games, Cutler has had just three interceptions. Cutler had full participation in practice and is listed as probable, but I wouldn’t expect him to take to the air too much in this one.
Jay Cutler sacks
2. Cutler was sacked five times last week but that was by a ferocious front four — front seven, really, with a solid linebacking corps mixed in. The Panthers defensive line isn’t going to be confused with the Lions’ defensive front anytime soon.
More passing yards – Jay Cutler or Cam Newton
Cam Newton. Newton may be struggling this year, but he’s averaging more passing yards per game than Cutler. And with the strong possibility that the Bears will be playing with a lead in addition to protecting Cutler’s ribs, Newton realistically should finish with more passing yards.
More rushing yards – Bears or Panthers
Bears. The Panthers have a strong duo of running backs in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, but the Bears still have the No. 1 run defense and have jumped out to big leads this season. Plus, the duo of Forte and Bush should find daylight against a soft Panthers run defense.
Total rushing yards for Bears
135. The Panthers are yielding 120.3 yards per game on the ground and the Bears offense is ninth in the league with 131.5 yards per game. I’d expect the Bears to amass a little bit more in this one.
Bears run-to-pass ratio
35 run-to-28 pass. I’d just be surprised if the Bears expose Cutler to any unnecessary beating in a game they should win without much fuss. It’s about time offensive coordinator Mike Tice finally put to use the full extent of Forte and Bush and see what comes of it.
Team to win the turnover battle
Bears. If this were a real prop bet, it certainly wouldn’t pay much. The Bears lead the league in interceptions and are tied for second in fumble recoveries. And because the offense — specifically Cutler — has been taking care of the ball, the Bears lead the NFL with a plus-13 turnover ratio.
Total points scored
37. Expect a big offensive output and a strong defensive performance from the Bears in this one.