At 8-3 the Chicago Bears are shooting for a first round bye in the playoffs as they host the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
Despite their last place passing attack, the Bears missed quarterback Jay Cutler and snapped a two game losing streak last week after beating the Minnesota Vikings 28-10. Cutler went 23-for-31 for 188 yards, and running back Michael Bush scored two red zone touchdowns to keep Chicago atop the NFC North.
The Bears defense, still ranked as one of the best in the NFL, did give up 108 yards to Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, but only allowed six third down conversions on 16 attempts and forced three Vikings turnovers.
Chicago is currently sixth against the pass and eighth versus the run, and will face a Seattle defense that is just as strong.
The Seahawks are clinging to the last NFC Wild Card spot after a crushing 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. Running back Marshawn Lynch was held to just 46 yards on 19 carries, while rookie Russell Wilson had one of his better games of the year, going 21-for-27 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the second lowest yard total for Lynch this season, and he will have just as difficult a time against the Bears top flight defensive line.
Same goes for Wilson, who also will struggle against one of the best secondarys in football led by cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, who has eight interceptions this season.
Like Lynch, Chicago running back Matt Forte also struggled last week with just 42 yards on 14 carries. Battling an ankle injury, Forte was listed as probable for Sunday’s game earlier this week, but his status was downgraded to questionable.
Seattle could also be down a key component of their offense, with wide receiver Sidney Rice listed as questionable with a calf injury. Rice leads the Seahawks with 37 receptions and 524 yards with six touchdowns this season.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by FOX, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: Chicago is favored by 3.5 points
Over/Under: 37.5 points
Prediction: Chicago is looking for some breathing room in the NFC North, and their defense should come up big against Seattle’s rookie quarterback. Look for Wilson to struggle throughout the day, and the Bears defense to force turnovers in a win.
Predicted Score: Chicago 24, Seattle 14