With the Arizona Cardinals looking more than functional in a big win over Atlanta, your Chicago Bears are once again in possession of the #1 overall pick.
In a season that’s seen nearly everything go wrong for Chicago, a positive like the Carolina Panthers’ 2023 implosion is not one to be taken for granted. Without Ryan Poles’ move to pick DJ Moore, the potential 2024 #1 overall pick, and even more draft assets from the Panthers’ pockets, Bears fans would be left discussing whether or not a win like last Thursday’s had sabotaged their future — instead, they can bask in the glory of a pair of Top 5 draft picks and a very reasonable chance at a franchise-changing Top 2 pick in 2024 (more on that another day).
No win is guaranteed in the NFL, but if we take a look at the Panthers’ upcoming schedule they’ve got quite a few doozies ahead.
- Playing a great defense like Dallas is never easy for a young QB, plus Dak and the Cowboys’ offense always seem to shine against poor opponents
- The Panthers’ division rivals (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans) have each lost winnable games recently & should be motivated to ‘get right’ against Carolina
- Also, with the Bucs currently sitting at 4-5 after yesterday’s win, there’s a very reasonable chance that the Buccaneers will carry playoff hopes into their Week 18 contest
- Tennessee & Jacksonville each host the Panthers, only adding to those games’ difficulty
- And then there’s the Packers, but with Carolina facing Green Bay so late it’s worth wondering whether the Packers will finally see their injured defenders (Jaire Alexander, Quay Walker) return & bolster a struggling unit. Those additions may tip the balance.
I couldn’t be more biased — I want the Bears to pick at #1 again, after all — but there’s a very reasonable chance the Panthers win 1 game or less going forward. If that’s all they manage to win, they currently hold Strength of Schedule tiebreakers over the Giants, Cardinals, and Patriots and would ultimately deliver the first pick in the 2024 draft to Chicago. An exciting thought.
Their trip to Tennessee should be a pivot game — if Will Levis and DeAndre Hopkins can overcome the post-bye Panthers, Carolina won’t have much runway left on the schedule. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Your Turn: What, if anything, has you upbeat about the Bears right now?