The Chicago Bears entered the week as concerned with their injury situation as they were with the Seattle Seahawks. They have received some positive news on the injury front, but now have reasons to be concerned with Seattle.
The Seahawks powerful combination of cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, failed drug tests in September and their pending suspensions were announced on Sunday. Losing them against the Bears would have been disastrous.
However, the two are maintaining their innocence and their appeals will happen after Sunday's game. They will be in uniform and ready to play in Chicago.
Seattle (6-5) can win three of its final four games without its corners, but have to win in Chicago (8-3) to keep the team's hopes of a 10-win season alive. This should provide the defense all the motivation the Seahawks need to pick up their first statement road game of the year.
Following is a comprehensive look at Sunday's matchup, including odds, fantasy impact, injury status and a prediction on how the game will develop.
When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m ET
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
Live Streaming: NFL Sunday Ticket
What's the best bet?
Odds: (via Bovada)
Moneyline: Seahawks +155, Bears -175
The Seahawks have been close in every game this season, which makes taking them and the points an intriguing proposition. However, the moneyline offers a nice return for a healthy team that will be facing a beleaguered offense.
Spread: Bears -3.5
Seattle is looking to win in Chicago for the third consecutive season. The Bears team it faced in 2011 was a shadow of the version that started the season, but the same could be said of the players that will take the field on Sunday.
Pete Carroll's team knows this is a game they can win.
There is a good chance that Matt Forte will be available on Sunday, but starting guards Lance Louis (IR) and Chris Spencer were lost to knee injuries last week. This should leave Forte concerned about who will be available to block for him if he can go.
#Bears RB Matt Forte said he'll play Sunday against the Seahawks.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) November 29, 2012
We just have to be careful what we ask those guys to do, make sure they’re on the same page and protect them.
You don’t want to do a lot of (seven-step drops) and chuck the ball 40, 50 times. They’re not programmed for that. They’re in new positions. Some guys haven’t even played guard. We just have to be smart with it.
The Seahawks bring a Top 10 pass rush with them. They've added speed and aggression off the edge with Bruce Irvin. Jason Jones has been able to keep quarterbacks from stepping up in the pocket to escape pressure.
Reserve tackles playing guard isn't the best way to neutralize Brandon Mebane, either, who is one of the league's leading interior tacklers.
Injury issues and a recent lack of performance with the Bears offensive line will likely allow the Seahawks defense to get back to playing at an elite level.
The over/under on this game reflects the talent on Chicago's defense. Even without Charles Tillman, the Seahawks will have trouble finding openings in the Bears secondary.
Lance Briggs is expected to play on Sunday and will be a key part of a unit that will pester Marshawn Lynch. However, the defense hasn't been quite as dominant against the run this season, allowing 97 yards per game and 4.3 yards per rush.
The over/under wasn't set when I set my score prediction earlier in the week. My 38 points come in too close to give much security with picking either side in this game.
If Tillman is out, it would make the over more appealing. Should Briggs also miss Sunday, the over becomes almost a must, as he leads the team in tackles (80) and has forced a pair of fumbles, intercepted two passes and been a part of multiple sacks (1.5 total).
Briggs has missed just four games in his 10-year career and told Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago that he doesn't plan to make Sunday his fifth. He and Brian Urlacher share a great chemistry and Briggs' fellow inside linebacker told Wright he doesn't want to see it broken up.
We have our little lingo that we use when we talk back and forth.
It'll be different (if Briggs can't play) because I'm used to having him in there all the time. It'll be different, but I don't see that being an issue.
Seattle (via Seattle Seahawks)
Red Bryant, DE, Foot: Has been slowed by plantar fasciitis for several weeks
Leroy Hill, OLB, Ankle: Did not practice on Thursday
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Back: This has been a staple of every Seahawks injury report this season
Greg Scruggs, DE, Oblique: Full participant
Chicago (via Chicago Bears)
Lance Briggs, LB, ankle: Limited in practice on Thursday
Kellen Davis, TE, ankle: Limited participant
Matt Forte, RB, ankle: Limited participant
Devin Hester, WR, concussion: Has been ruled out for Sunday
Alshon Jeffery, WR, knee: Limited participant
Stephen Paea, DT, shoulder: Full participant in practice on Thursday
Chris Spencer, G/C, knee: Has been ruled out for Sunday
Charles Tillman, CB, ankle: Limited participant
Edwin Williams, G/C, shoulder: Full participant
Fantasy Big Plays
Seattle: RB Marshawn Lynch
Until last week, Lynch had been fairly defense-proof. He had rushed for 100 yards in six of 10 games and had at least 90 yards from scrimmage in all but one.
The Miami Dolphins are one of the best run-stopping units in the game, sitting at third in yards per game (95.6) and per attempt (3.7).
Seattle will likely run a conservative game plan to avoid the risk of turnovers against a ball-hawking Bears defense. Chicago's offense will likely struggle with blocking issues, keeping it from exploding offensively.
Both of these factors mean more attempts for Lynch.
Projected Stats: 26 Carries, 112 YDS, 3 REC, 24 YDS, 1 TD
Forte has said he expects to play this weekend, but he isn't a guarantee. He's also struggled as of late. He doesn't have a touchdown in the last three games and has been below 50 yards from scrimmage in two of those games.
Cutler and Brandon Marshall are also suspect plays this week. The Seahawks have done a good job of limiting No. 1 receivers and Cutler may not have time to get him the ball.
The Bears defense has been a turnover and scoring machine this season. It may not get as many opportunities at interceptions if the Seahawks come out conservative, but it's hard to bench the league's No. 1 fantasy unit.
Projected Stats: 4 Sacks, 2 TOs, 0 TDs
Key to Victory
Many Seahawks fans were quite upset when Carroll and John Schneider opted to draft James Carpenter instead of Gabe Carimi. Bears fans are starting to share the sentiment, as their right tackle was injured most of last season and benched this year for poor play.
With the recent injuries, he'll be one of the better options for the Bears on Sunday, which isn't exactly a good thing.
Chicago is out of interior linemen and will have to move players out of position to field its line. Aside from skill concerns, there will be no continuity in blocking schemes.
The Seahawks will unleash a variety of stunts and blitz packages to confuse the Bears blockers. As long as the Bears try to move the ball through the air, Seattle will bring pressure and try to better its output.
The NFL record for sacks in a game is 12. That may no longer be true on Monday.
The reason to pick against the Seahawks is clear. They simply aren't a good road team (1-5).
However, that didn't stop them from winning in Chicago last season and won't keep them out of this game, either.
The Seahawks had a chance to take the lead in their final possession in all five losses, but good teams win close games. Seattle hasn't done so.
Chicago is also favored by virtue of having one of the best records in the NFC. However, of the Bears' eight wins, none of the teams are in the top third of the league in total defense.
Their losses all came against good defenses who were able to pressure the quarterback.
Seattle is the fourth Top-12 defense the Bears will face this season. There are reasons to believe the results will be the same.
The Seahawks defense has been worn down on the road in four of its road losses. That will be the key for Chicago to secure the win.
The Bears offensive line won't be able to keep Cutler on the field long enough to wear the Seahawks down, though. Carroll will have his team ready to play, knowing this is a must-win game.
Final Score: Seahawks 21, Bears 17
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.