Seahawks vs. Bears: Offensive Line Is the Key to a Bears Victory
On the Bears' side, they have lost Lance Louis and Chris Spencer from the offensive line, and Devin Hester while Matt Forte and Charles Tillman will be playing through injury.
It's a bit of a trap game for the Bears.
Both teams have very good defenses, while both could struggle offensively for different reasons.
Let's take a look at what the Bears need to do to come out on top.
When the Bears Are on Offense
The main thing here is to find a way to keep the Seahawks' very tough pass rush from crushing Cutler.
Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner will lead the charge here, and they will test the current incarnation of the offensive line. I actually like Gabe Carimi at guard and J'Marcus Webb is holding his own at left tackle, but the rest of the line is a mess. Losing Spencer and Louis while Chilo Rachal quit—well, that's a problem.
They have to keep Cutler upright.
That means two things.
First, the Bears and offensive coordinator Mike Tice have to bring in extra help be it Evan Rodriguez from the H-back position, Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth from the tight end or Matt Forte and Michael Bush out of the backfield.
I said this last week, and given the injury issues and the better level of skill in the Seattle defensive front, it's even more critical now.
The second thing they have to do is continue to design plays which get the ball out of Cutler's hand super quick.
Generally he's not having to wait a ton of time before he throws. They need to keep most of the routes short until they can be sure that the pass rush isn't getting to Cutler too quickly.
Mixing in a healthy dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush is vital as well.
Forte's ankle is supposed to be all right, but to preserve him a bit the Bears should use Bush more than they have when both men have been available the last few weeks.
Pound the ball and hit the front seven hard. Keep them from being able to blitz and come all out so that Cutler has a little more time to throw.
Brandon Marshall will have his hands full with either or both of the corners here, but he has been able to overcome solid coverage before. He may not have a huge game, but he won't be shut down either. If the Bears can get him crossing the middle of the field, it will also be tough for the corners to stay with him, and he's a matchup issue for any of the linebackers or safeties.
When the Bears Are on Defense
The Bears will want to commit to keeping Marshawn Lynch under control, and that effort will be led by Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.
Lynch is tough to bottle up, and he will get his. The trick is to make him work for it—drag it out over a long period of time.
Because if the offense does its job and puts points on the board, then at some point they're going have to shift away from the ground game and their rookie quarterback will have to throw.
It's not that Russell Wilson is incapable of doing so, but with the defense the Bears can bring to the table, having him throw is playing into their hands.
While he is dangerous with his legs, he's still raw. With Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings at the corners and Briggs, Urlacher, Henry Melton, Julius Peppers and the rest, the more Wilson has to throw, the greater chance of a turnover.
The receivers for Seattle aren't all that incredible, and even an injured Tillman should be capable of keeping their production capped.
The offensive line can be overcome, and they have allowed 21 sacks so far this year. Not an overwhelming amount, but not a small amount either.
It shouldn't be all that hard for this front seven to add to that total and keep Wilson off balance and unable to get his rhythm.
After that, it's just a matter of applying pressure until Wilson makes some mistakes. While he doesn't make a ton of them (just eight interceptions this year), the Bears are the sort of defense to make it happen.
What makes this an intriguing game are the issues on the Bears offensive line. The Seahawks are a bad matchup for any team with issues there, especially at tackle.
We know the defense will come to play and keep things close. It's whether the offense can overcome its blocking issues or not which will decide if the Bears keep their lead in the NFC North or if the Seahawks will make it twice in a row they beat Chicago in the Bears' own house.
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