NFL Playoff Predictions: Why the Chicago Bears Will Lose in the Divisional Round
With their miracle win over the New Orleans Saints, the Seattle Seahawks advance to the NFC Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs to face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday.
Who would have ever figured, right?
On the wings of an inspiring late-game run by former Buffalo Bill Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks cruised to victory over one of the NFC favorites 41-36.
The question is, can they do it again?
Popular opinion is no, and popular opinion is probably right. It became abundantly clear that the Seahawks were outmatched towards the end of their game against the Saints, and ultimately pulled it out only due to the sizable lead they had built up.
But I digress.
The Seahawks, believe it or not, really do have a chance against the Bears, and this time it isn't all about magic and pixie dust.
This time, it's about coming to play in the playoffs, and that all started with the running game.
During the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks could not move the football. The averaged 89 yards per game on the ground (No. 31 in the League) despite trading for Marshawn Lynch, and that could be killer.
Instead of letting that define them, the Seahawks found a way to get it done and racked up 151 yards on the ground --including Marshawn Lynch's game winning 67-yard touchdown run.
Will the Seahawks pull out another upset?
Arguably even more impressive, though, was the performance of aging quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Only days before the game, debate was still raging on whether or not the Seahawks should start former third string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
They chose instead to go with Matt Hasselbeck, and what a decision that turned out to be. Despite a slow start, Hasselbeck ended the game by going 22 for 35 for 272 yards and four touchdowns. He may not have had the same yardage total as Drew Brees, but the two extra touchdowns appeared to have helped.
Is the repaired offense not enough?
Well then, how about another reason?
This one might be a bit of a stretch, but the Seahawks looked...well...good on defense (for the most part).
For most of the year, the Seahawks couldn't stop the pass. Ranked No. 27 in the League, the Seahawks gave up an average of 249.6 yards per game through the air. They may have given up 404 yards against the Saints, but those numbers are deceptive. The Seahawks did a fantastic job of corralling Drew Brees in the first half, allowing Seattle to jump in the game and take the reigns.
More important was their ability to stop the Saints from running the football. Previous to this, the Seahawks ranked No. 21 in the League, giving up an average of 118.9 yards per game on the ground.
The Saints only gained 71.
With their renewed defensive vigor combined with an offense that can suddenly move the ball both on the ground and through the air, the Seattle Seahawks have at least an alright chance of pulling their second upset in a row.
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