Sunday, Jan. 16th, 2011 1:00 PM EST
Line: Chicago -10
The Seattle Seahawks shocked the world last week, by knocking off the defending world champion Saints in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle is a double-digit underdog once again, but this time they are not in the confines of Qwest field. The 12th man undoubtedly played a big role in the victory over New Orleans. The Seahawks will try to harness their momentum and carry it with them when they go into Chicago.
The Chicago Bears probably didn’t expect they would be preparing for the Seattle Seahawks at this point. The Saints had to be excited when they learned they had a 7-9 team in the first round of the playoffs. If the Bears can learn anything from the Saints’ playoff experience, it is that the Seahawks are not a bye. They may have the worst regular season record of any team in history, but they are 1-0 in the playoffs. Thinking otherwise could land Chicago in the same position as New Orleans.
Keys to the Game:
- If the Seahawks are going to win, ‘beast mode’ has to be unleashed. For those of you who do not know, ‘beast mode’ is what is unleashed when Marshawn Lynch gets going. Some are calling his run last week the best run in playoff history. He has been relatively quiet all season long, failing to rush for 100 yards in any game during the entire regular season. He rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown last week and played a major role in the Seahawks reigning victorious.
- Julius Peppers is the single most important player on the Bears. While many would say Brian Urlacher or Jay Cutler, Peppers changes the entire defense. The Seahawks have to address #90 on every single play with multiple players. Neutralizing him comes at a price, as it frees up others in the front seven to come clean. The Bears feature a dominant defense, but if the Seahawks don’t allow Peppers to take precedence over everyone else, he is going to take over the game.
Matt Forte Vs. Seattle’s run defense
- The Bears don’t have many legitimate targets. They have a quarterback who is feast or famine playing behind a sub-par offensive line. Chicago has an outstanding defense, but if Seattle is able to put up over 14 points, the Bears could be in trouble. Matt Forte has had four monster games this season. He can establish the run game by himself and is one of Jay Cutler’s most sure handed targets. The Bears need to feed him carries early and often to take the pressure off of Jay Cutler.
- The Seahawks have been lackluster against the run and pass this season. Even so, the playoffs are a whole different animal. Jay Cutler will not want to subject himself to the pressure of the Seattle defense and the sticky fingers of Earl Thomas. If the Bears allow the Seahawks to ignore the run game, this could take a turn for the worse for Chicago. If the Seahawks can handle Drew Brees and the Saints, the Bears should be far less of a problem.
The Seahawks may have gone as far as their team is built to go. That being said, nobody expected them to beat the Rams to get into the playoffs. Nobody expected them to knock off the Saints. The Seahawks have been able to come out on top with all the odds stacked against them before. Can the Bears silence Seattle in Chicago? I picked the Seahawks to cover last week. Even though they are going to be on the road this week, they don't deserve to be double-digit underdogs again. As long as they don't kick the ball to Devin Hester, I like their chances of covering.
Pick: Seattle +10