Welcome to the Downfield Read NFL Thursday Night Football breakdown. Last week we had a semi-eventful game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and at least they kept it close and entertaining. We saw Will Levis play mediocre at best, but definitely not as well as he did the week previous, which is disappointing. We also saw the Steelers sneak another game away into the Win Column and finish week nine with a 5-3 record. For real? How is that even… oh, forget it. Let’s move on to this week’s completely craptastic (don’t worry, it’s a legit word to describe this matchup) game between the Carolina Pussycats (1-7) and the Chicago Bear cubs (2-7). Honestly, NOBODY…not even fantasy football players (unless they have DJ Moore) care about this game. The NFL NEEDS to do better in flexing garbage games like this out of prime time! This is terrible, but we’re going to break it down for you anyway. HERE WE GO!
At 1-7, I’m not sure if the Panthers are officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they should be by default for being terrible. Offensively, they are one of the worst teams in the league, right behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carolina ranks 28th in yards per game, 27th in passing yards per game, 26th in points per game, and 24th in rushing yards per game. The black kittens started the season by losing their first six games, making only one of those games close, losing to the New Orleans Saints 20-17. Then they had their Bye Week and came back to beat the Houston Texans at home by a whopping two points…before getting smoked in their next game to the Indianapolis Colts. So, unless they have another Bye Week this year, which…nope, they don’t…they probably won’t win another game.
Bryce Young, who continues to prove that he shouldn’t have been drafted #1 overall, is 27th in passing yards behind Gardner Minshew and Kenny Pickett. He’s also 24th in pass completion with 63.9%, and he’s tied for eighth in interceptions with seven picks thrown on the season. Little Bryce is tied for 23rd with Minshew and Matthew Stafford with only eight passing TDs, he’s 32nd in QBR behind Ryan Tannehill (now QB2 with Tennessee) and Zach Wilson, and he’s 34th (yes, 34th in a 32-team league) in Passer Rating. Some other QBs that Young is behind in Passer Rating: Jimmy Garoppolo (now QB2 in Las Vegas), Aiden O’Connell, and Bryce’s own teammate, Andy Dalton. Young is also tied for 4th in sacks taken.
There isn’t much more to mention on the Pussycat’s offense outside of their off-season wide receiver acquisition, Adam Thielen. I’ll bet the Vikings are wishing that they had Thielen back right now too. Adam has 62 receptions (tied for sixth in the league) for 610 yards (13th in the league), and four TDs. DJ Chark has been wildly disappointing along with the rest of the receiving crew for Carolina, as nobody else is even in the top 100 for receptions or receiving yards. Does Bryce know that he has other people to throw to?
Running Back Chuba Hubbard is 32nd in the NFL for rushing yards at 328 yards, while averaging 3.9 yards per carry with one touchdown. Mile Sanders is their “change of pace” back accumulating 229 yards at 3.3 yards per carry, one touchdown, and two lost fumbles. Carolina has scored the second least number of points (140) in the NFC behind the New York Giants, who don’t seem to know what an End Zone is. The Panthers point differential is fourth worst in the league at -86 after eight games. Me-ouch!
Defensively, Carolina is dead last in average points given up per game, and they are 31st in takeaways. The pussycats are 5th in passing yards given up per game, but that’s only because every team they play is deciding to run all over them, as they rank 28th in rushing yards given up per game. They’re 23rd in turnover differential with a -4, and they are tied for last in fumble take-aways. They do know that they can try to take the ball away from the other team, right? Somebody might want to tell their coaches.
The only two defensive players worth mentioning on the black cat’s are linebackers Frankie Luvu and Brian Burns. Luvu is leading the team in tackles with 62 and has 3.5 sacks (2nd on the team), seven tackles for losses, and two passes defended. Burns has only 16 total tackles, but leads the team in sacks with five, and has seven tackles for losses and a forced fumble. However, Burns won’t even be playing tonight because he has been ruled OUT due to a concussion. Carolina’s defense is currently decimated with eight other players being on IR, starting cornerback CJ Henderson is OUT due to a concussion as well, and starting Safties Vonn Bell and Xavier Woods are both listed as Questionable with thigh injuries.
The Bears are surprisingly not as a sad as that Panthers…statistically. Their team is still in the bottom five of most Power Rankings for obvious reasons. Offensively the cute, little bear cubbies are 23rd in passing yards per game, 19th in overall yards per game, 19th in points per game, and surprisingly, 4th in rushing yards per game. Chicago started their season by dropping their first four games, and five out of six. They haven’t been much better since then, dropping their last two games. Just so you know who they are better than, the bear cubs have beaten the Raiders and the Commanders. However, they have lost to the Broncos and Buccaneers, so there’s that.
Justin Fields is probably making Bears fans wonder why Chicago gave up their first-round pick last year instead of drafting a new QB. Well, that’s because they’ll have TWO very early draft picks next year by way of Carolina stinking it up, and the Bears continuing to play like garbage themselves this year. Good deal, right? Fields is 29th in passing yards behind Garoppolo and Tannehill (neither one of them even being a QB1 anymore), and 30th in pass completion. He’s 7th in sacks taken, tied for 12th in interceptions thrown, and 26th in QBR right behind Mac Jones and that Ridder kid in Atlanta who isn’t a QB1 anymore either. Fields is 16th in passing TDs (11) and in Passer Rating with a 91.6. None of that may even matter though because he’s Doubtful to play tonight due to a “Boo-Boo” on his thumb. Yes, that was a Yogi Bear reference.
Other offensive “weapons” for the Yogi’s include D’Onta Foreman (previously of the Panthers) who is 38th in rushing yards with 287 and two touchdowns, and Khalil Herbert (currently on IR and hasn’t played since October 5th) who is 40th in rushing yards with 272. Herbert has no TDs on the season as of yet, but he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. When Fields was playing in the beginning of the season, he tallied 237 rushing yards, one TD and averaged five yards per carry as well. Sticking to the ground attack is probably the smart way to go considering the Bear-cubs are the worst team in the NFL in give aways (18), and second worst team in thrown interceptions (12).
Defensively, Chicago is 28th in both passing yards given up, and points given up per game. They’re only 19th in total yards given up per game, but that’s probably because of their opponents are constantly working with a short field due to all the give aways from the Bears. Chicago is also dead last in turnover differential with a -9, they rank 27th in fumble takeaways, and 24th in overall takeaways. Linebacker T.J. Edwards is second in the NFL for total tackles with 100 (five for losses), and has two sacks, and one forced fumble and fumble recovery. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has 63 tackles on the year with three for losses and three passes defended, but no sacks.
Rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent, who has played in four games this year for the injured Fields, will likely get the nod again tonight for Chicago. Oh joy. Just who everyone wanted to see. Currently he has 697 passing yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions. Bagent has completed 67.3% of his passes for a Passer Rating of 70.9 and 52.3 QBR, and let’s just say that I’m happy that I picked up and started the New Orleans defense against him last week. Those two sacks, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries really helped me out, so thank you, Tyson.
Montez Sweat should be making his Chicago Bears debut tonight, opposite of Yannick Ngakoue. That might be the only intriguing thing about this game tonight. Otherwise, it’s just two teams that are playing poorly, who are beat up, and are probably ready to throw in the towel. The only motivation that I see is coming from the Chicago side to beat Carolina so that the Bears get a better draft pick in the first-round next year via the trade that they made with Carolina this year. I would like to think that this game is going to be close, somewhere around 17-20, but there are just too many injuries on the Panthers defense that I think the Bears will be able to take advantage. It’s going to be cold tonight (in the 40s), and that’s more “Bears” type of weather. I’ll take the Bears over the Panthers by a score of 27 to 16. Thanks for “read”!