The Seattle Seahawks return to Soldier Field for what seems like their annual trip to Chicago. Pete Carroll’s bunch are winners of two of their last three games against the Bears, which makes Sunday’s game a lot more difficult than you’d think a game should be against a team which is 1-5 on the road.
The Bears limp into this contest with their offensive line and wide receiving corps depleted. That doesn’t bode well for Jay Cutler and the offense. Neither does the fact that the Seahawks soon-to-be-suspended cornerbacks will be playing while they wait for their appeal.
To help us prepare for this critical conference battle, we solicited the help of Keith Meyers, the editor of 12th Man Rising, our FanSided Seahawks counterpart. Here are my questions and Keith’s answers. Be sure to head over the 12th Man to see my answers to Keith’s questions.
1. The Seahawks are winners of two of their last three at Soldier Field yet they’re just 1-5 on the road this season. Why do you think they’ve been so successful in Chicago? Why have they struggled on the road this season?
I don’t think it’s so much an issue with Soldier Field, and just how the 2 teams match up. The Bears are a very good team, but they generally are good in an area that the Seahawks can stop, and their weakness lines up with the things the Seahawks are built to exploit. For instance, the Bears play a lot of Cover-2 on defense. The Seahawks receivers aren’t generally all that good, but they do a good job of break down zone coverages. Team that play mostly man coverage are the ones that give the Seahawks receivers trouble.
It’s not always about which team is more talented. Sometimes it’s about how the schemes of teach team match up. The Seahawks seem to have been built to beat teams like Chicago, and in the same way they are built to struggle against other (and sometimes lesser) teams like the Dolphins.
2. The Seahawks might be catching a break with Browner and Sherman awaiting an appeal for their bust for using Adderall as a PED. At least it wasn’t Viagra, right? Can they shut down Brandon Marshall individually or will they double him?
Viagra? I think that’s a different kind of performance they’d be trying to enhance.
As for this game, those 2 corners are more than capable of shutting down Marshall. They’ve already shut down Megatron, Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald. According to Football outsiders, the Seahawks are the best in the NFL at shutting down the opponent’s #1 receiver. They’re also the second best in the NFL at shutting down the opponents #2 receiver. It’s the other receivers that tend to eat the Seahawks alive. Slot receivers have really given the Seahawks fits all year.
3. The Seahawks raised a lot of eyebrows when they drafted Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick in last year’s draft but he’s having himself quite a season. Is he the real deal? What are the expectations for him going against the Bears’ weak and further depleted offensive line?
Irvin has been up and down all season. He abuses some OTs, and gets completely engulfed by others. He’s still a work in progress. It’s almost impossible to know what to expect from Irvin from game to game, since his playing time can greatly vary depending on the opponent.
Ultimately, I expect him to have a good game this week. The Bear’s O-line is the team’s primary weakness, and it set up for either Irvin or Chris Clemons to have a big day. Since Clem is the known quantity, he tends to be the one who get all the double teams when teams keep an extra blocker in on pass plays.
4. Russel Wilson was another unconventional pick for the Seahawks too, but he’s also exceeded expectations. Describe his game. What are his weaknesses? Can the Bears get to him and force a few turnovers?
Wilson was only unconventional in that he’s short. If he was 6-4, he’d probably have been the #2 player taken in the draft. He’s got everything you’re looking for in a franchise QB. He’s accurate, got a HUGE arm, great speed and athleticism, he’s a natural leader, and he’s a very hard worker. He also throws a great deep ball, just ask the Patriots.
Early in the season, I’d say that the Bears had a chance to get to him. He got rattled by pressure and made some mistakes in the first 5 weeks, but since then he’s been really good, including a QB rating over 120 for 3 straight games. Wilson has committed just 9 turnovers all season (8 picks and 1 fumble) and 4 of those picks have hit the receiver in the hands and tipped the ball up to the defender. If you’re expecting Wilson to turn the ball over a lot, you’re going to be disappointed.
The one weakness in his game thus far has been knowing down/distance situations. He throws a lot of 4 yard passes on 3rd and 6. Teams that can step up and tackle well before the sticks have given the Seahawks problems.
5. What’s your prediction for Sunday? Please include a final score.
Oh man, this is the last game I’d want to try and predict. The Bears are the better team, but as I said above the Seahawks match up really well to be able to pull off the upset. If this game was in Seattle, where the Seahawks are undefeated, I’d pick Seattle to win. But unfortunately this is a road game, and the Seahawks defense just isn’t as as good away from CenturyLink Field, so I’ll pick the Bears in this one. I do think it’ll be close though.
Chicago 24 – 20 Seattle
Be sure to head to 12th Man Rising to get more insight on the Seahawks and to read my answers to Keith’s questions.