NFL Divisional Round Playoffs: Seahawks at Bears Preview and Prediction
Congrats to the Seattle Seahawks on an amzing win against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
You have driven a large number of sports gamblers completely insane.
What amazed me the most from that game was the sudden transformation of most Seahawks fans from "Hey, don't blame us, we robbed Tampa Bay of a playoff spot" to "See ya in Dallas, I knew this team was just waiting until January to turn up the heat!"
Now I'm hearing talk and reading Internet chatter about the Seahawk's chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
This has gotta be the quickest a bandwagon has filled up in a very long time.
Just a few quick points as to why Seattle's win wasn't a miracle.
1. Saints/Drew Brees playoff history:
Last season's Super Bowl run included no true road playoff games, which is nice because the Saints have never won a playoff game on the road in the team's history.
This is an alarming stat that was downplayed last week by most.
Drew Brees hasn't always been impressive in the playoffs. He was 1-2 as a starter for San Diego, and those two losses came in games where his team was favored to win by many.
2. Quest Field:
Quest Field has a legitimate claim to being the loudest stadium in the league.
We forget the advantage of playing there because the Seahawks were fairly irrelevant until the last two weeks of the season.
The Seahawks went undefeated at home during the 2003 and 2005 seasons. The stadium has hosted numerous playoff games since 2003, and most recently saw the Seahawks win a NFC championship in 2006 against the Carolina Panthers.
3. Saints running game/defense:
The Saints were without running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, the team's leading rushers. They instead had to start Julius Jones, who hasn't carried a serious team's running responsibilities since 2005.
Drew Brees threw the ball 60 times in the game, and the offense never found the balance they had with the healthy backfield in 2009.
The Seahawks looked like they rented a time machine and grabbed 2006-2008 Marshawn Lynch for this game.
The Saints went back to 2008 and grabbed their old defense for this game.
The Seahawks now have to win in Chicago to continue this playoff run.
Predict this divisional round match up
They will face a better ground game with Matt Forte looking better as the regular season was ending. They may not be facing the same caliber passing attack as New Orleans, but I'm curious to see how Seattle handles the match up nightmare of Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen.
The true difference will be the Bear's defense. I don't see Brian Urlacher letting his team lose focus and miss tackles like the Saints did.
How does Matt Hasselbeck respond to a stiffer test on defense and a great pass rush led by Julius Peppers?
X factor: Earl Thomas (Jay Cutler vs. Seattle secondary)
Jay Cutler is a gunslinger; he makes plays but he also throws picks.
If he wants to keep the interceptions to zero, he should always know where safety Earl Thomas is.
Thomas has the speed and athleticism that makes offensive coordinators lose sleep.
Cutler's efficiency determines this game.
This game reminds me of the 2009 Cardinals-Panthers game, in which a veteran quarterback led a disrespected team into a huge road, underdog victory.
Wouldn't it be something if a hot Green Bay team won in Atlanta and Seattle ended up hosting the NFC championship game?
Seattle doesn't have the playmakers the 2008 Cardinals had, but still has a shot to upset the Bears.
They are going to need to play ultra aggressive, taking every imaginable risk defensively. Hasselbeck will need to find a "go to" guy if Seattle wants to move the ball against a tough Chicago rush defense.
My heart will be cheering for the upset, but my head says go with the Bears on this one.
Chicago 27, Seattle 13
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