Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears: 5 Things to Watch for in This Matchup

Matt Eurich@@MattEurichAnalyst IDecember 14, 2011

Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears: 5 Things to Watch for in This Matchup

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    Last Sunday for three quarters, the Chicago Bears looked like the team that would be able to derail the Tim Tebow express, then the fourth quarter happened.  The Bears crumbled in the fourth quarter much like the teams before them who had fourth quarters leads over Tebow's Denver Broncos.

    A pair of mistakes by Marion Barber and a defense that had virtually shut Tebow out in the first three quarters allowed him to carve through the secondary and lead the Broncos to victory.

    With the loss, the Bears fell to 7-5 and although slim, their playoff hopes are still alive.  In order to get back in the hunt, the Bears will need to take care of business when the Seattle Seahawks come to town this Sunday.

    Here are five things to watch this week as the Seattle Seahawks come to Chicago to take on the Bears in their last regular season home game.

Stopping Beast Mode

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    After being selected 12th overall in the 2007 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, Marshawn Lynch burst on to the scene his rookie year, amassing more than 1,100 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.  But due to a lack of performance, injuries and criminal issues, the Bills traded Lynch to the Seahawks last season.

    Lynch may now be best known for his amazing run in the Seahawks upset win over the New Orleans Saints in last year's playoffs.  Lynch refused to go down as he fought off tacklers on his way to a 67-yard touchdown, resulting in his nickname "Beast Mode."

    Lynch has had quite a resurgence in the last six weeks, racking up 706 yards rushing. He has now rushed for a touchdown in nine straight games.

    The Seahawks offense goes as Marshawn Lynch goes.  If the Bears want to control this game defensively, they need to slow down Lynch and force quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to make plays.

Converting Third Downs

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    In Caleb Hanie's first three starts, the Bears offense has converted just eight third downs in 40 attempts, including zero conversions two weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs

    Not all blame rests on Hanie's shoulders: His receivers have not done the best job of holding on to passes thrown their way, or with an offensive line that has suddenly forgotten how to pass protect.

    In the Bears last three games, the offense has only been able to average 11 points per game, and a big reason has been its inability to convert third downs.  Not being able to convert third downs not only hurts the flow of the offense, but it forces the defense to get back on the field and try and stop an offense that continues to get momentum on their side.

    If the Bears can begin to convert a higher percentage of their third downs, it will help keep their defense fresher and open up more opportunities to score.

Getting to the Quarterback

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    Despite losing their last three games, the Bears defense has been playing great football, only allowing one offensive touchdown in each of the last three games.  A major reason has been the defensive line's ability to get to the quarterback. 

    Despite the three losses, the defense has been able to get to the quarterback 11 times in those games, including five last week against Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

    The Bears defense is predicated on their ability to pressure the quarterback and rely on the defensive backs to make big plays in the secondary. 

    Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is not a world beater, but if the Bears can apply the same pressure to him that they were able to get on Tim Tebow, they can force Jackson into mistakes. 

Forgetting the Past

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    Much of the blame for the Bears loss against the Broncos last Sunday have been placed squarely on running back Marion Barber.

    In the fourth quarter, with less than two minutes to go, Barber made the mistake of going out of bounds on a run play to the left, which resulted in the clock stopping and prevented the Bears from being able to run the clock out.  The Broncos' were able to get the ball back and Tim Tebow led them downfield to set up a 59-yard game-tying field goal by kicker Matt Prater.

    After the game moved into overtime, the Bears were moving the ball effectively and approached field goal territory.  With the ball in his hands and an opening up the middle, it appeared Barber would become the hero and if not score, at least setup a very manageable field goal attempt. 

    The cards were not in Barber's favor. 

    Broncos' linebacker Wesley Woodyard stripped the ball from Barber's hands and the Broncos were able to move the ball and kick a game-winning field goal.

    Despite his big mistakes, Barber played a nice game against a stingy defense, rushing for 108 yards and one touchdown.  The biggest thing for Barber is to forget the past and use his mistakes as motivation this week against a defense that's ranked 11th in the league in rush defense. 

Scoring Offensive Touchdowns

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    It is tough to win many football games when your offense is only averaging 11 points per game, and has only scored three total touchdowns in three games.

    The more we watch Caleb Hanie under center, the more we realize what Jay Cutler meant to this offense.  In Cutler's last three games before injury, the Bears had scored eight total touchdowns and were averaging nearly 33 points per game.

    The Bears defense can only do so much: If the Bears want a chance to make the playoffs, the offense needs to able to prove they can score points. 

    Mistakes have been the biggest deterrent of this Bears offense. 

    From untimely turnovers to dropped passes and missed blocking assignments, the offense needs to find a way to click and reduce bad mistakes.  With how well the defense has been playing, the offense only needs to produce a couple touchdowns to be successful.