Overview: The Chicago Bears travel to the Pacific Northwest this week for a preseason matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. I’ve been excited about doing this post because, living in Washington State and being a non Seahawks fan, I am constantly berated by the “12th man” and consequently gather a lot of information on a team I normally wouldn’t follow closely. The Seahawks are 1-1 so far this preseason and, after a lackluster 21-16 week one loss to the Denver Broncos, really pulled it together for a 41-14 thrashing of the San Diego Chargers last week. The Seahawks really dominated the Chargers from start to finish in that contest (especially in the run game) and looked like the defending Super Bowl champs that they are. The Seahawks compiled 243 yards and 5 TDs on the ground during the course of the game and their starting offense had 4 scoring drives. This week’s matchup should be a good test for the Bears defense to see how far they’ve really come since last year.
Injuries: Linebacker tops the list of injury concerns for the Seahawks, as former first round pick Bruce Irvin remains on the PUP list after hip surgery this offseason, Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner suffered a hamstring injury during the first week of training camp, Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith is still recovering from ankle surgery and backup Korey Toomer also has a hamstring issue. They should all be fine by the start of the regular season, but are considered long shots to suit up against the Bears this week. The Offensive line has also been an issue for the defending champions early in the preseason, but have started getting healthy again which played a large role in the Seahawks dominance on the ground last week.
Players to Watch: Running backs will be what I pay attention to the most when the Seahawks have the ball. The backfield is rather cluttered with incumbent Marshawn Lynch still leading the way, while they have added a number of draft picks in recent years. It will be intriguing to see who makes the final roster. With talented backups like Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, the writing appears to be on the wall for Lynch, who is nearing the age that running backs tend to hit the wall and has a hefty price tag. I’ll also be keeping my eye on the wide receivers. While Percy Harvin figures to be heavily involved in the offense, the rest of the picture is murky as the Seahawks attempt to replace the recently retired Sydney Rice and Golden Tate, who recently signed with the Detroit Lions. Second round pick Paul Richardson figures to be the second option at some point during the season, but will he be ready for the regular season opener?
The Way I See It: I will be intrigued to see if the Bears’ revamped defense can contain the Seahawks’ monstrous ground game, but I won’t put too much stock in it either way it goes. A lot is made of these 3rd preseason games as dress rehearsals for the regular season. The starters play longer than usual and there is generally a little bit of game planning, but I sincerely doubt that the Bears will be showing all their cards until the regular season starts. That having been said, the defending Super Bowl champions should be an excellent test of the Bears’ mettle.
What will you guys be watching for in this one?