The Bears head to Seattle this weekend for what should be a pretty exciting game against the Seahawks. Even though Seattle is dealing with some injury issues, going into Qwest Stadium and getting a win is never easy.
But since I am getting this out late, we should get right down to brass tacks...
Quarterbacks: Matt Hasselbeck/Seneca Wallace vs. Jay Cutler
One of the injuries Seattle has to deal with is the cracked rib that Matt Hasselbeck suffered last week against the San Francisco 49ers. It has yet to be determined who will start for them, but backup Seneca Wallace is being prepped to play.
Jay Cutler is coming off a very fine comeback victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers. He looked more calm and collected, and his throws were consistently more accurate. He finished the game 27-of-38 for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
Verdict: Seattle either has an injured starter or a pretty good backup going for them...
Running backs: Julius Jones vs. Matt Forte
Now this might actually be closer than you think. Julius Jones had a good Week One against the St. Louis Rams with 117 rush yards that included a couple breakaway runs.
In Week Two, he couldn't muster much against the 49ers defense, but he did catch a short touchdown pass from Wallace.
Forte, on the other hand, has been ineffective through the first two weeks. To be fair, one of those weeks was against the vaunted Steelers defense, but Bears fans everywhere are still waiting and praying for the Matt Forte of last year to arrive.
Verdict: Jones is a cagey vet, but Forte is facing a defense that allowed 200+ yards to Frank Gore last week.
Wide Receivers: Nate Burleson/T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Devin Hester/Earl Bennett
Housh has yet to make into the end zone this year, but you can never sleep on him. He is excellent at gaining separation from defensive backs, and his hands allow him to catch passes most others couldn't.
Burleson, in my opinion, is one of the more underrated second-tier receivers in the league. He is athletic and smart and always seems to be in on plays. His only problem has been injuries, one of which kept him out for basically the entire season last year.
For the Bears, both Hester and Bennett have outplayed expectations (at least MY expectations).
While neither did much in terms of yards/catches against the Steelers, Bennett had seven receptions in his first game and Hester had a solid first game plus a big third down conversion on one of the final drives of the game against the Steelers.
Verdict: Life might be made more difficult by the injuries at QB for the 'Hawks, but we are just comparing receivers. And despite the Bears continued improvements at that position...
Tight End: John Carlson vs Greg Olsen
If you had asked me this question during training camps, I would have said that Olsen is the clear-cut winner. But two weeks and several key drops into the season, Carlson has been the much better player.
In two weeks, Carlson is the Seahawks leading receiver in terms of catches (12), yards (141) and touchdowns (2).
In two weeks, Greg Olsen has not even been the most prolific tight end on his own team. Kellen Davis has five catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Olsen has four receptions for 49 yards, zero touchdowns and at least four drops.
Verdict: This might be different by the end of the year if Olsen can get it together but as of right now, this one is to easy.
Offensive line: Seattle vs. Chicago
I won't name all 10 starters, partly because it is obnoxious and partly because I am not qualified to judge every starter on Seattle's line.
For them, I look at the numbers, and they show that the running game is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and there has only been one sack of a Seattle QB.
For Chicago, their running game has averaged 2.7 yards per carry and have given up four sacks.
I also believe that left guard Frank Omiyale has under performed so far this year. I know that he is better when he is pulling and can get out into space and I am hoping, with time, he improves on his interior blocking. But I am hoping that time comes soon.
Verdict: It pains me. I realize that while the Packers and 49ers are pretty even, the Bears faced the Steelers while Seahawks faced the Rams. But regardless, three of the sacks against the Bears came in the Packers game, so what does that tell you?
Cornerbacks: Ken Lucas/Kelly Jennings vs. Charles Tillman/Nathan Vasher
Lucas is actually questionable for this game with a groin injury, although expect him to play and Kelly Jennings is filling in for starter Josh Wilson, who is out with an ankle injury.
If Lucas can't go, then look for Travis Fisher to play, despite the fact that he is also trying to shake off a hamstring problem.
Lucas is a savvy vet and should play all right, but Jennings has only one season as a starter under his belt and that was from 2007. His job will more than likely be defending Earl Bennett while they let Lucas use his experience to frustrate Hester.
Charles Tillman recorded the first turnover of the year for the Bears last week when he intercepted a Roethlisberger pass in the first half. He is still working his way back from off season back surgery, but it was good to seem him making plays on the field.
Zachary Bowman was fairly quiet even though he played more against the Steelers than he did versus the Packers. Bowman's ball skills and athleticism should keep in most plays but his inexperience is a factor to keep in mind.
Verdict: If Lucas plays, that gives the Seahawks the edge in experience, but the Bears still have their two starters from week one plus an edge in depth.
Safeties: Deon Grant/Jordan Babineaux vs. Danieal Manning/Al Afalava
Grant is one of those players who is a steady, reliable starter. In fact, this will be Grants 131 consecutive start in the NFL. He has started in every game of every season since 2001. He played for the Panthers, Jaguars, and Seahawks and has recorded 23 career interceptions. Model of consistency.
Babineaux has not had quite the same success but is still a pretty reliable player. He has not started an entire season, but this is his sixth year in the NFL, all with Seattle, and has six career interceptions.
I will point out though that both Grant and Babineaux spent some of their time last Sunday trying to catch up to Frank Gore, who gashed the Seahawks defense to the tune of 207 rushing yards on a mere 16 carries.
Manning and Afalava again lack their counterparts' experience, but they do make up for it in terms of athletic abilities. Manning has become an excellent blitzer and Afalava, who is a rookie sixth-round pick, has proven that he, unlike many of our previous safeties (i.e. Adam Archuleta) can make tackles.
In the span of five plays, Afalava stuff Willie Parker for a short gain, made a picture-perfect tackle on Steelers tight end Heath Miller after a gain of only three yards, and a touchdown saving tackle at the goal line on Mewelde Moore.
Verdict: Experience vs. Youth... you be in the judge.
Linebackers: Will Herring, Lofa Tatupu, and Aaron Curry vs Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Nick Roach
The catch here is that Tatupu is doubtful for the game with a hamstring injury. The Seahawks are already without starting WLB LeRoy Hill, and if you're missing two of your starting linebackers, including your MLB, then well, you are where the Bears are at.
Curry was arguably the best pick in this year's draft, but combine his two starts from this year with the number of career starts for David Hawthorne (Tatupu's backup) and Herring's before this year and it equals a total of four total starts... Ouch.
Lance Briggs is a Pro Bowler and while Hillenmeyer and Roach started the season as back ups, both have had experience in the starter's role.
Hillenmeyer started as the strong side linebacker from 2005 to midway through the 2008 season. And Roach finished last season as the strong side linebacker.
Verdict: Even though the Bears are without Urlacher and Tinoisamoa, if Tatupu doesn't play, the Seahawks are in trouble.
Corey Redding, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole and Patrick Kerney vs Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams and Alex Brown
Mebane is listed as questionable on the injury report, but he participated in practice, so I expect him to be out there.
Redding and Kerney are solid defensive ends, both with a lot of experience at getting to the QB. Redding should be used to the Bears, as he spent six seasons with the Detroit Lions before being traded this past off-season.
Mebrane missed a start with a calf injury, but if he plays, he will should help in trying to stop Matt Fote. The weak link might be Colin Cole, who had a total of eight starts in his previous seven seasons in the NFL.
The Bears D-line has already showed improvement from last season, as both Brown and Ogunleye have recorded two sacks each through the first two games. Brown also hurried Roethlisberger into an interception last game that altered the momentum.
Before that interception, which was the third play of the second quarter, the Steelers had racked up 144 yards of total offense. After that play, the Steelers gained a 164 yads for the rest of the game.
Tommie Harris has shown flashes of big play ability but still does not look like his old self yet. Adams on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise in the starting role. He has been successful in disrupting the rushing offenses of both the Packers and Steelers and at one point pressured Roethlisberger right into the waiting arms of Alex Brown.
Verdict: Both have solid lines, but the Bears have given up 181 rushing yards in two games. The Seahawks gave up over 200 in just one game.
I left out special teams and coaching because while I think the Bears have the superior special teams, I am still not sold on Lovie/Ron Turner.
The Seahawks are hurting, but the Bears spent most of last season not winning two games in a row. A lot of win one... lose one... win one... lose one.
But despite the home field advantage, look for the Bears to pull this one out...
Bears 27, Seahawks 20