The Chicago Bears defeated the Carolina Panthers by a score of 16-13 on Thursday night in a game that was mostly unwatchable to anyone not in Chicago or the Carolinas (and even then, people may still not have tuned in for very long).
Two bad teams facing off in a nationally televised game in November? Yeah; that isn’t going to draw too much attention, especially when neither side was really scoring points.
However, in spite of how boring the contest may have been, the Bears were able to accomplish a feat that they haven’t achieved in over two decades.
During the win over the Panthers, Chicago did not allow a sack, a turnover or an offensive touchdown, which marks the first time the Bears have done that since 1998 (h/t Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago).
Of course, it’s a rather arbitrary grouping of statistics, but the fact that it’s something Chicago hasn’t done since the ’90s makes it a fairly impressive venture.
In spite of doing all of that, the Bears were still barely able to get by against a Carolina squad that is now just 1-8 on the season, but in Chicago’s defense, Tyson Bagent was under center with Justin Fields still recovering from the dislocated thumb he suffered in Week 6.
Plus, a win counts the same regardless of how you get it, and the Bears also achieved something else in beating the Panthers: they made it more likely that they will have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Remember: Chicago traded its own first overall pick from 2023 to Carolina last year, which cleared the way for the Panthers to select Bryce Young. As part of the exchange, the Bears received Carolina’s 2024 first-rounder, so Chicago helped its own cause even if the status of its own pick worsened by getting to 3-7.
The Panthers are currently tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the worst record in the NFL, and with Kyler Murray returning from a torn ACL this weekend, Carolina seems to be the favorite to finish with the worst mark in football (although the New York Giants may end up giving the Panthers some competition).
Should the Bears end up with the No. 1 overall selection via Carolina, they may very well end up taking a quarterback and moving on from Fields.
Chicago will battle the Detroit Lions next Sunday.