The Seattle Seahawks are very much alive in the NFC postseason picture, but being a playoff contender means beating such top-tier conference foes as the Chicago Bears. Chicago’s decisive win over the Vikings put it firmly in the driver’s seat in the NFC North, and the Bears would love to add another home win to run their Soldier Field record to 6-1.
These factors will have the most to say about which defense-first club triumphs on Sunday afternoon:
1. Will either quarterback break 200 yards passing?
This game features two of the NFL’s top six passing defenses against its two least-productive aerial attacks. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the second rookie quarterback to face the Bears this year, and he can’t be looking forward to facing a defense that demolished Andrew Luck back in Week 1.
Of course, Jay Cutler (for all his experience) won’t be in much better position than Wilson, as he must face Chris Clemons and a daunting pass rush behind a patchwork offensive line. The Bears have to hope that Brandon Marshall—the best wide receiver on either roster—can create enough matchup problems to save Cutler from another sack-filled nightmare.
2. Does Chicago have an answer for Marshawn Lynch?
Marshawn Lynch’s career was reborn when he arrived in Seattle, and the hard-working back hasn’t lost his momentum yet. He’s piled up 1,051 yards on the ground through 11 games, averaging 4.6 yards a carry in the process.
Chicago’s run defense is strong but not impenetrable, and Lynch is likely to grind out plenty of first downs between the 20-yard-lines. Whether he can add to his unimpressive total of five touchdowns, though, is another question entirely.
3. Where will the Bears get their points?
Seattle’s run defense (12th in the league at just 108.6 yards allowed per game) isn’t a whole lot more vulnerable than its pass defense. If the Seahawks stack the line to stop Matt Forte and Michael Bush, it could be a very long afternoon for Chicago’s offense.
Of course, that assumes that the Bear offense doesn’t get handed plum field position by a defense that’s been putting up ridiculous turnover numbers all season. Lynch has fumbled just twice on the year, but Wilson has five fumbles and eight interceptions on his record, and Chicago has thrived on turning opponents’ mistakes into scores.
Prediction: Chicago 13, Seattle 10
Both teams are happy to play a grinding, ball-control game behind their respective outstanding defenses. Chicago’s unit, with home-field advantage on its side, will force more takeaways than Seattle’s to salvage a narrow win for the Bears.