Seattle - 23 Chicago - 20... A surprise when you think about the fact that the Seahawks have developed a reputation as the worst playoff team ever and the Bears got a first round bye. So what happened? Can Seattle find a way to win this game and get to .500 (9-9) or will the Bears handle their business this time and end Seattle's run?
When you look at the scoring summary Seattle seems to have been in control in this game. They took the lead at the beginning of the second quarter and never looked back and Chicago was only in it at the end because Devin Hester took one to the house. Or at least thats what the scoring summary says. If you look through the box score and the play-by-play though you'll see something different.
First thing I noticed was that this was a classic Mike Martz game. He only called 12 handoffs all game while Cutler dropped back to throw 47 times. This is a classic Martz trait that Lovie Smith seemed to work out of him as the year went along. From week 11 on Cutler had more than 30 attempts only once, in the week 17 game against the Packers where the Bears were only half trying. The Seahawks aren't a great team but they are pretty well coached. If they know what your are trying to do they can usually scheme up something to stop it. This time I foresee a much more balanced attack from the Bears which should allow them to score on a Seahawks defense that has not done nearly as well stopping the run since DT Red Bryant went out for the year after week 8.
The other huge factor was the Chicago special teams had an awful game. And yes... That awful takes into account that they scored on a punt return TD with Hester. Chicago had 13 drives in the game.... 5 of them started from within their own 10 yard line and only 3 times did they start drives from beyond the 20 yard line. They also had a kickoff return for a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty. And on top of that Seattle blocked a field goal. Both teams usually feature very good special teams play but the first game they played was very one sided. I expect that not to be the case a second time.
It's hard to talk about the Seahawks and not bring up last weeks game against the Saints, but I think that was a perfect storm of circumstance for them. The Saints are a much better team at home or at least in a dome than on a rainy cold day on a wet field in Seattle. The Saints also had running back injuries going into the game (had 4 RBs on IR already) and then lost guys during the game thinning them out to the point where they were using DeShawn Wynn who hadn't been on the roster a week. And on defense the Saints were without Malcolm Jenkins which left Roman Harper to get toasted all day long by Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck had a great game (4 TDs - 1 INT) but it has to be mentioned that Hasselbeck has always been good against the big blitz.... Something the Saints do consistently but the Bears aren't big fans of.
So how do I see this game going this time? Chicago is going to romp them. The Bears are a team that does lots of things well. They don't have any real weaknesses to attack. They can both run and pass effectively and play great all around bend but don't break defense. Meanwhile, the Seahawks don't do a great job of either running or stopping the run. While that didn't matter for them against the Saints (who have the same problems) it will matter much more here.
How Seattle Can Win - Mike Williams picks up where he left off and goes over 100 yards against the Bears once again.
How Chicago Will Win - Balanced offensive attack proves hard for Seahawks to stop. Seahawks offense sputters against traditional defense.
Pick - Chicago -10
Final Score Prediction - Chicago 34 - Seattle 10