Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
Site: Soldier Field (Chicago, Illinois)
The Seahawks are currently clinging to the 6th and final playoff spot in the NFC. After last week’s disappointing loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks look to bounce back this week on the road once again against the NFC North leading Chicago Bears. The Seahawks are 6-5 and the Bears are 8-3. If the season ended right now, these two teams would play in a rematch in the NFC wild-card playoffs. The Seahawks are heading to Chicago for their fourth game against the Bears in a three year span. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Bears 9-6. In their most recent matchup, the Seahawks defeated a banged up Chicago squad 38-14 in week 15 last season. Here is what I will be focusing on this week.
There is no doubt that the Bears are the best team the Seahawks have faced this season on the road. Chicago’s defense is one of the best in the entire league. It is this reason why Russell Wilson needs to put together another solid game. Within this point though is the fact that Wilson and the rest of the Seattle offense needs to get off to a fast start this week. Last week in Miami, the Seahawks only posted 135 yards in the first half and 13 of those came in the first quarter. This cannot happen this week because if it does, a hole will be dug that is too deep to get out of. Marshawn Lynch will be hungry to get back to form this week. Lynch was held to only 46 yards on 19 carries last week. Against a defense that is giving up an average of 97 rushing yards a game it is possible to get a rhythm going but do not be surprised if the Bears are able to stuff Lynch just like the Dolphins were able to do. My player to watch on offense this week is wide receiver Sidney Rice. I expect Rice to line up against Charles Tillman this week. I am not looking at if Rice can catch a lot of balls for a lot of yards. I am interested to see if he can break away from Tillman, who has forced seven fumbles and intercepted two passes. If Rice can be successful on the outside, Wilson will throw in his direction a lot.
The Seahawks defense seems to be slowly falling apart, especially in the running game. This week the Seahawks will most likely be facing a lot of Michael Bush, but starting running back Matt Forte is determined to play after injuring his ankle last week against Minnesota. Coach Carroll said that Red Bryant may not be able to play this week. Bryant has been the anchor of our run defense and losing his would be a significant blow. If Bryant cannot play, Alan Branch will start at defensive end and Greg Scruggs will start in Branch’s spot at defensive tackle. Unlike last year, the Seahawks will face the Bears starting quarterback. Jay Cutler is having a phenomenal year so far. Last week Cutler came back from a concussion and dominated the Vikings. This year Cutler has a huge weapon on the outside in wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall has caught 81 passes for 1,017 yards and 8 touchdowns. Brandon Browner will line up against Marshall this week. Browner is the tallest corner Marshall has faced this year. If quarterback pressure is not applied by our pass rush, Marshall will most likely put up some big gains. It will only be a matter of time before he gets involved in the Bears game plan.
Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will play this week for the Seahawks after it was announced that they were suspended four games each for testing positive for Adderall. They are appealing their suspensions, making them available for this week’s game. I think appealing is a smart move especially for this game. I would not be surprised at all if they retract their appeals after the game regardless of whether we win or lose, which would force them to sit out the final four games of the regular season. I believe Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Lane, Jeron Johnson, and Walter Thurmond can hold down the fort if Browner and Sherman are unavailable for those games.
The Bears have four incredible players on their starting defense. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman have all been staples of dominance for the past few years and they can all be disruptive to a sputtering offense. One matchup to keep your eye on is Peppers versus Russell Okung. Okung was extremely successful in shutting Peppers down in their first matchup in 2010. In their next two matchups, Okung did an adequate job but nothing nearly as good as the first matchup. It will be important to keep Peppers from busting loose but even if Peppers can beat Okung, Russell Wilson has the capability to get away rather easily. I could see a lot of on-the-run passes by Wilson this week. It will be interesting to see Wilson’s athleticism against an extremely talented, but aging Chicago defense.
I have one special teams note this week. Bears kick returner Devin Hester has been ruled out of this game because of a concussion. Hester is arguably the most dangerous return man in the NFL. Without him, the Seahawks have a good chance of keeping Chicago’s special teams at bay this week.
Random Thoughts: The weather in Chicago at game time is supposed to be in the low 60’s. Hindsight is 20/20, but if my dad had known this 6 months ago, this would have been our road trip this season… Although I will not physically be in attendance on Sunday, one of my roommates will. His is in Chicago this week for academic reasons and it was just a matter of coincidence that the Seahawks were coming to Chicago this weekend. He will be in attendance this week. Hopefully he can savor the joys of seeing the Seahawks win on the road… Mike Carey is the referee this week. He is my favorite ref and one of the fairest in the league, however I recall that the Seahawks game he called last year cost us the game; the Seahawks 7-6 loss to the Browns in Cleveland… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call once again for FOX this weekend. I have nothing left to vent about this broadcast crew. You should already know my feelings about this horrible duo… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week… I have a 5-page single-spaced paper to write due Sunday night. For my and the Seahawks sake, I must finish the paper on Saturday in order to be homework free for football on Sunday.
Prediction: The Seahawks have lost 5 road games this year by an average of 4.8 points. I think this is going to be an ugly game for the Seahawks. This will be the first double-digit loss for the Seahawks this season. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall will connect at least ten times this week and although the game will be close at halftime, the Bears will pull away from a tired and worn down Seattle defense in the second half.
Bears 28, Seahawks 17
Check back for my review of the Bears game on Monday afternoon. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!