Chicago Bears: 5 Players to Watch in Week 13
The Seahawks are currently 6-5 but with only one win in the road this season.
Both teams will have a lot at stake come Sunday with the Bears will be trying to hold on to the top spot in the NFC North while the Seahawks will be battling for a wild card positioning.
Here is my list of five players to watch this Sunday:
After injuries to left guard Chris Spencer and right guard Lance Louis, Edwin Williams was forced into action on Sunday against the Vikings.
After tearing his ACL, Louis was placed on injured reserve on Monday and will not return this season. The extent of Spencer's injury is unclear, as an MRI revealed cartilage damage in his knee, and he will likely not be able to play on Sunday (h/t Chicago Tribune).
With former starter Chilo Rachal having left the team, and with their injuries, the Bears signed veteran Andre Gurode on Tuesday (h/t ESPN). However, he will likely not be ready to see any significant time on the field this Sunday, meaning the Bears will move forward with Williams as a starter.
He started seven games last season for the Bears while filling in at left guard, following an injury to Chris Williams. Whether he starts at left guard, where he is more comfortable, or at right guard is unknown at this point, but he was solid in pass protection last year. As a former center, he has good athleticism.
If he gets the start at left guard, he will be matched up against the difficult Brandon Mebane, who has great strength and is a tremendous pass rusher, meaning Williams will have to play at the top of his game to protect quarterback Jay Cutler.
This past Sunday, Brandon Marshall became the first Bears' wide receiver to amass over 1,000 yards receiving in a season since Marty Booker in 2002.
Through eleven games this season, Marshall has 81 catches for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns, proving he was worth the two third-round draft picks that the Bears traded to Miami for him.
Marshall has imposed his will on most cornerbacks this season with his strength and size, but on Sunday he will likely face his toughest task.
Despite being given a four game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are expected to play, while awaiting the appeals process (h/t Fox Sports).
If both cornerbacks are able to play, they both match up with the 6'4", 240-pound Marshall. Browner stands at 6'4" and Sherman at 6'3", and it will be the first time this season Marshall will face a cornerback who rivals him in size.
Both corners play physically, are solid tacklers and have the ability to take the football away. Marshall will have to use the 20-pound-plus advantage he has against both cornerbacks and will need to rely more on his strength than size.
Before his sack of Christian Ponder in the first quarter of Sunday's game, defensive tackle Henry Melton had registered just one-half sack in his last five games after registering four-and-a-half in his first five.
The Seahawks want to run the football, but have been willing to put the ball in rookie quarterback Russell Wilson's hands. Melton will likely be matched up against James Carpenter, who has battled injuries, but is a strong and tough lineman.
Melton, who leads all NFC defensive tackles in Pro Bowl voting, will be called upon to not only try and get to the elusive Wilson, but in helping slow down All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch has thrived throughout his career at running up the middle, and Melton will have to do a better job in the running game than he has in previous weeks, especially in key running situations.
His speed should allow him to get the first step on Carpenter, but he will have to rely on his technique to get past him or force Lynch to go another direction.
After being benched in favor of veteran Jonathan Scott at the right tackle position, Gabe Carimi was thrust into action on Sunday after injuries to guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer.
Carimi found himself playing guard for the first time ever and was named as the starter at right guard for this Sunday against the Seahawks (h/t CBS Sports).
He struggled mightily in pass protection this year at tackle, and the move inside might work best to his strengths as run blocker. Making the adjustment from playing the outside with nobody to the right of him to playing between two players will be a big adjustment. His strength and size should make the adjustment easier for him.
He may just be holding down the position until the newly signed Andre Gurode comes up to speed, but if he can string together some solid performances, he may have found himself a new position.
A week after missing a start against the 49ers due to a concussion suffered against the Houston Texans, Jay Cutler found his groove again against the Vikings, going 23-31 for 188 yards and throwing one touchdown.
While his numbers do not jump off the page he looked poised and confident in the pocket, moved around when needed, and continued to make pinpoint accurate throws, including a rocket to Matt Spaeth in the endzone for a touchdown.
With the Seahawks' secondary looking to still be intact on Sunday, he will face a defense that not only can create turnovers, but has been terrific at getting to the quarterback.
He will need to show off his abilities to get outside of the pocket again on Sunday and he is not afraid to tuck the ball and run. The Seahawks have a terrific defensive line and secondary but their linebackers can be a bit suspect in pass defense. Expect Cutler and the Bears to try and exploit the middle of the field with the short and intermediate passing routes.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.