Panthers-Bears doesn’t exactly have the storied rivalry of Packers-Bears, but this week’s game at Soldier Field means a little extra to a few members of the Panthers organization.
“I’m not going to downplay it. People say it’s just another game. No, it’s not,” Panthers coach Rivera said Monday. “They’re all big, but this has a little personal meaning for me because it’s Chicago. It’s a great city and a great organization. Now I’m here in Charlotte in a great organization and a great city. It’ll be fun. I look forward to going up there.”
Rivera, of course, was drafted by the Bears and played for their 1985 Super Bowl team. He’s also had two coaching stints there under Dave Wannstedt and then Lovie Smith before Chicago went in a different direction at defensive coordinator.
Rivera isn’t the only one that’s fired up.
“To say this game doesn’t light your fire a little more with everything that happened would be a lie,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m excited.”
While Jay Cutler has struggled to find weapons passing, Olsen is off to a nice start in Carolina with 12 catches, 169 yards, and a game-winning touchdown last week. He’s on pace to have the best year of his career after Chicago traded him to the Panthers.
We haven’t even mentioned Julius Peppers yet. Charles Johnson of the Panthers gets a shot to prove perhaps he’s the best big money defensive end on the field this week.
It’s not Packers-Bears, but it’s not bad.
And it’s a game the Bears desperately need to win.