Bears vs. Panthers: Will the Bears win a 2nd straight game for 1st time since 2015?

Key matchups, players to watch, predictions and more for Sunday’s BearsPanthers game at Soldier Field.

4 storylines

Restoration effort: The Bears’ defense, ranked sixth in the NFL in total yards, is coming off one of its best games since coach John Fox and coordinator Vic Fangio took over in 2015. They forced three turnovers against the Ravens, including Adrian Amos‘ 90-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Ravens were only 3-of-18 on third downs and did not score an offensive touchdown. Maybe of most importance, the Bears didn’t give up the long touchdown that doomed them in close losses to the Falcons and Vikings. Because the Bears’ offense is so limited, the defense has little margin for error. Good thing it’s playing at a high level.

Jump higher: Mitch Trubisky has completed only 20 of 41 passes (48.8 percent) through two starts. Hardly a stat line to get excited about. But coordinator Dowell Loggains said Trubisky made a “big jump” from his debut to last Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory over the Ravens. Coaches were pleased by how he threw the ball away six times instead of risking a turnover. But praise for throwaways carries only so much weight. At some point, Trubisky must be accurate enough to throw his receivers open. It’s worth noting that starters Tanner Gentry and Tre McBride were not on an NFL roster earlier in October.

Back 2 back? The Bears’ rebuilding effort has struggled to get off the ground. Exhibit A: The Bears have won consecutive games only twice under Fox, both times in 2015. They can talk about progress, and some is evident in the defensive statistics, at least. But the only way truly to substantiate it is to pile up victories. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton presents an especially difficult challenge because he’s playing better after missing some of training camp recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder. Consistency for the Bears has been fleeting, but a victory Sunday would add meaning to how they survived against the Ravens.

Comeback story: Kyle Fuller‘s resurgence has been one of the brightest spots in the Bears’ 2-4 start. After missing 2016 because of arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees, Fuller was in danger of being cut. The Bears declined his fifth-year option and signed veteran cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency. They shopped Fuller in trades, considering anything he gave them a bonus. Well, Fuller is now healthy and moving well. That…

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