Bears offense vs. Seahawks defense
The Bears thus far are the 30th ranked rushing offense in the league, but with good cause. They’ve faced two 3-4 defenses, which are often difficult to run against. The Steelers also have one of the best run-stopping defenses in the league, so it was particularly challenging to move the ball on the ground against them. Things could open up considerably this week against a Seahawks defense that allowed San Francisco’s Frank Gore to rush for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. If Matt Forte can’t find any room to run this week, we might find out that it’s the offensive line that is having trouble run blocking. In which case, the onus will be placed on Jay Cutler’s arm to help move the offense down the field, even more so than it was the first two weeks. It helps that linebacker Lofa Tatupu is listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report.
Bears defense vs. Seahawks offense
The Bears have been neither good nor bad on the defensive side of the ball this season. They’ve had moments of both at times this season, but the general consensus is that the jury is still out on this unit. No matter how well Hunter Hillenmeyer plays — and he did surpass early expectations — the loss of Brian Urlacher makes this unit weaker. And the more that Tommie Harris remains in seclusion, the more difficult it will be for the Bears to generate pressure on the quarterback and get off the field in a reasonable amount of time. It was encouraging to see Adewale Ogunleye pick up two sacks in the season opener against Green Bay and Alex Brown follow suit with two of his own against Pittsburgh. Let’s see if more pressure can be generated on Seneca Wallace — or Matt Hasselbeck, who probably won’t play, but hasn’t been officially ruled out. Seattle has only allowed 1 sack this season, tops in the league. The Bears’ secondary will have to be mindful of wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who called them out this week and said he would win 95% of the battles. If Wallace is the quarterback, the Bears will have less to worry about from Houshmandzadeh and the other Seahawks receivers.
It’s increasingly hard to analyze the matchup of special teams for the Bears each week because they rarely meet their match. Robbie Gould’s clutch game-winning field goal last week proved just how valuable he is and why the Bears continue take the edge in this department. Brad Maynard’s accuracy and directional punting gave the Bears’ defense good field position with which to work. Now, Johnny Knox or Danieal Manning need to pick up the kick returns and Devin Hester needs to find a crease and the Bears will top the league in this category again.
Let’s get the obvious out in the open right away. The Seahawks have one of, if not the loudest stadium in the NFL. It’s certainly the loudest outdoor facility. Opposing offenses have been called for more false start penalties at Seattle than any other team in the past few years. Aside from that, there really aren’t too many things working in the Seahawks’ favor. They could be without their starting quarterback and their best linebacker. Their run defense was gashed for more than 200 yards last week. Their run game is steady but unspectacular. As long as the Bears take care of the ball and figure out a way to run the football and quiet the crowd, this game could be over early. I figure with the tough defenses that Cutler faced in the first two weeks, he’s going to find a lot of open receivers all game.
Final Score: Chicago 27, Seattle 14