If Julius Peppers is effective, the rest of the defense will follow.
The Chicago Bears will face the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field in the Division Playoffs. When the Seahawks played the Bears early in the season, the Bears did not convert a single third down and Jay Cutler was sacked six times. Since that time, the Bears have rotated offensive lineman Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale.
The Bears have adapted the Martz offense to its personnel. The changes have proved successful when Cutler has time in the pocket to get the deep slants to open up.
The Seahawks upset the Saints last week in Seattle. They had a 7-9 record in the regular season, but the addition of Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carroll coaching up his team has been some of the turning points. The NFC West was pathetic this year and everybody counted Seattle out in the first round. They decided to shake up the playoff picture and beat the New Orleans Saints.
The game Seattle played early in the season was against an older version of the Bears.
The Seahawks are dealing with a new Bears team that has improved since the bye week. All phases of the Bears are healthy and they have had time to heal up even more for a run at the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks' defense hasn't shown much throughout the season. If the offense weren't running on all cylinders against the Saints, they would be tossing fish at the market right now. They gave up tons of yards against the Saints, so Chicago should be looking at the game film finding the best scheme to light up Seattle's secondary.
Who will be in the NFC Championship
This is the time for the Bears to put an opponent down early. The elite teams start strong and finish strong against woeful opponents. The Bears could gain confidence and have a dominating win against a team that some think didn't even earn a playoff spot.
The Seahawks were ranked 27th in pass defense and 21st in rush defense. What makes that even worse is the opponents they faced in the regular season.
Unlike the Saints, who have had so many injuries at the running back position, Matt Forte and Chester Taylor have not had any serious injuries and can catch the ball better in the backfield than Reggie Bush. If the Bears want to show they have an explosive offense, this weekend is the time.
The defense should look to tighten up the Cover-2 to keep Matt Hasselbeck in check.
Matt had his best game of the year last week with four touchdowns against a blitz-happy Saints defense. The Bears should rely on the the four-man rush and let Julius Peppers loose on whatever side he gets the most pressure on.
The Bears have been so healthy this season. Having the continuity of the same players in all phases should help the Bears against any opponent in the NFC. In this game, the Bears could get turnovers, score with deep passing plays or let Matt Forte balance the offense. The Bears have too many options for the Seahawks to focus on one aspect.
Look for the Bears to open up the playbook and use what they have learned since the bye to overcome the Seahawks. If they lose...who will be the goat?