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Nuts & Bolts: Bears-Panthers

Matt Forte had touchdown runs of 18 and 68 yards against the Panthers in the first quarter of last year's Bears' win. Bob Donnan/US Presswire

Panthers at Bears

When: Noon, Sunday | TV: FOX 32 WFLD-TV | Radio: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM

Bears (1-2)

Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 66-54

Career head-to-head record (including playoffs) vs. Ron Rivera: 0-0

Career record (including playoffs) against Panthers: 3-3 | Last week: Lost to Packers 27-17

Key stat: In 39 offensive drives through the first three games, the Bears have scored five touchdowns, and six field goals, but punted 21 times and had four drives end as the result of a turnover.

Offense rank: 23rd (304.7 ypg) |Defense rank: 25th (386.7 ypg)

Offensive leader: RB Matt Forte ranks first in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (726) since Week 16 of the 2010 regular season with 111 more yards than the next closest player Ryan Mathews of San Diego (615 yards). Forte also leads NFL running backs in receiving (1,782 yards) since coming into the league in 2008. Forte and Baltimore’s Ray Rice are the only players in the NFL since 2008 to post 3,000 rushing yards, and 1,500 receiving yards.

Defensive leader: DT Henry Melton has emerged as one of the team’s leaders up front, and currently ranks seventh in sacks (3) among defensive tackles this season. Melton’s three sacks are already a career high. In the opener, Melton recorded two sacks, making him the first Bears player to accomplish the feat (since sacks started being recorded in 1982) in his first start that was a non-replacement player.

STREAKS

• The Bears have won 12 of their last 13 games dating back to Sept. 18, 2005 when the defense has scored a touchdown.

• Rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher has scored a touchdown in two consecutive games, and is the first Bears undrafted free agent since Marcus Anderson (1981) to post multiple receptions in back-to-back games.

• In 16 combined career games against the Panthers, Chicago’s Devin Hester, Roy Williams, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Sam Hurd, Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth have never scored a receiving touchdown.


Panthers (1-2)

Coach: Ron Rivera | Record: 1-2 |Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 0-0

Career record against Bears: 0-0 | Last week: Defeated the Jaguars 16-10

Key stat: The Panthers are averaging 405.7 yards per game, which ranks as seventh in the league. In addition the club is averaging 20 points per game, which ties the Bears for 17th in the NFL

Offense rank: 7th (405.7 ypg) | Defense rank: 17th (356.7 ypg)

Offensive leader: WR Steve Smith is 32, but still one of the game’s best receivers. Smith needs just 23 yards receiving to pass former Bear Muhsin Muhammad (9,255) as Carolina’s all-time receiving leaders. Smith has also caught a pass in 62 consecutive games dating back to 2006.

Defensive leader: DE Charles Johnson has posted a sack in each of the first three games of the season, and has tallied a sack in nine of his last 10 games for the Panthers. Johnson led the team last season with a career-high 11.5 sacks in becoming just the fifth player in Panthers history to post 10 sacks in a season.

STREAKS

• Tight end Jeremy Shockey has caught a pass in 124 consecutive regular season games, which ranks as the second-longest streaks among active tight ends. Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzales leads active tight ends with a reception in 167 straight games.

• QB Cam Newton has thrown at least one touchdown pass in three consecutive games.

• Although Carolina defeated Bears in the 2005 divisional playoffs at Soldier Field, the Panthers have never won a regular-season game at that stadium.