Seahawks Vs. Bears: 10 Keys to a Chicago Victory
The football gods continue to smile upon Lovie Smith and the Bears as the Seattle Seahawks upset the defending champion New Orleans Saints and bring their 8-9 record into Soldier Field on Sunday to face the 11-5 Chicago Bears.
But wait, not so fast here. First, the Sawhawks already beat the Bears during the regular season at Chicago. Second, they are playing loose. All the pressure is on the Bears.
But at least on paper, it looks like a mismatch, which is why the Bears open as nine point favorites. But as we saw in New Orleans, where the Seahawks were 10 point underdogs, anything can happen on a given weekend with the parity in this league.
Everything seems to be pointing toward a Bears—Packers rematch in the NFC Championship game. That game, if it happens, might break all TV ratings.
But for that to happen, Green Bay needs to beat the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, where the Dirty Birds have been very good this season.
But who cares about that? For now, as Bears fans, our focus is on beating Seattle so we can face with the Falcons or the Packers.
Recognizing that, let's see what the keys are to the game.
Need To Convert On Third Down
The Bears were 0-for-12 on third down in the first meeting with the Seahawks. That was during the midst of the low point of the season, of course.
Since then, the Bears have tried to balance the offense, and that has, for the most part, helped the offense convert on third down.
Before the bye, the Bears were just 15-for-84, or roughly 18 percent, on third down conversions.
After the bye, they went 49-for-111, or about 44 percent.
It's interesting to note, however, that the Bears converted on only 20 percent of their third downs in the lopsided 40-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in week 15.
Need To Contain WR Mike Williams
WR Mike Williams made 10 receptions for 123 yards in the first meeting vs the Bears secondary.
The Bears need to stop the very tall Seattle WR. Fortunately, he has been much less effective since the bye week.
Before the bye, Williams had three 100+ yard games. Since the break, he hasn't come close.
Need To Get Pressure On Matt Hasselbeck
In the first meeting, the Bears had no sacks. Brian Urlacher told ESPN.com as much.
"They had us off balance all day, ran the ball well, threw well, converted on third downs," Urlacher said. "We didn't get pressure."
Urlacher went on to point out that he respect the Seattle QB.
"He's a veteran, knows our defense," Urlacher said. "He knows where to go with ball, knows our coverage."
All of which makes getting pressure even more critical.
Seattle's Only Win Against a Playoff Opponent Was Vs. Bears
During the regular season, the Bears were the only team the Seahawks beat that ended up in the postseason.
Now, that could mean that Seattle got lucky. Of course, Seattle just beat the defending champion Saints, so take that stat with a grain of salt.
The Seahawks lost to the Chiefs, Falcons and the Saints during the regular season.
Bears Defense Is Back On Track
The Seahawks and the Eagles were the only two NFC opponents to score more than 21 points against the Bears this season.
Following rough performances against the Pats and Jets, the Bears defense played stellar against two of their last three regular season opponents.
You Can Score On Seattle's Defense
Counting their playoff game against the Saints, the Seahawks are allowing 26 ppg this season.
Seattle ranked 27th in total team defense this season, allowing more than 368 yards of total offense per game.
Need To Balance The Run and The Pass
When the Bears lost to the Seahawks 23-20 on Oct. 17, Jay Cutler dropped back to pass 47 times and handed the ball off 12 times.
This time, you can expect Mike Martz to continue doing what he's been doing since the bye week. That is, mixing in a healthy dose of Matt Forte which should do two things.
One, it should limit the mistakes made by the offense.
And two, it keeps the defense fresh by controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field.
Need Devin Hester To Just Be Devin Hester
Devin Hester had his 2nd punt return for a touchdown this season in the first meeting with Seattle.
Since then, he broke the all-time record and teams avoid kicking to him which only serves to create excellent field position for the Bears offense.
The Bears special teams can be a huge advantage this weekend.
Need To Relax
You can't take the Seahawks lightly. But the Bears do need to take a deep breath and realize they are the better team playing at home and get the job done.
I say this because all of the pressure falls on Chicago.
Look, Seattle wasn't even supposed to make the playoffs. They had a losing record.
And once they made the playoffs, they weren't supposed to win a game. But they beat the Saints.
So Seattle comes into Soldier Field with nothing to lose, while the Bears are expected to win.
So take a deep breath and relax, Bears. You can do this.
Seattle beat the Bears in their first meeting, so this is the perfect opportunity to exact revenge on an opponent coming into Soldier Field trying to beat Chicago twice on its home field. Have some pride!
The Bears likely have somewhat of a chip on their shoulders, knowing that they are big favorites but were beaten by Seattle early in the season and would like nothing more than to even the score on Sunday.
This could be an advantage for the Bears, who are sure not to overlook Seattle based on their record since they already beat them.