The Bears have the Seattle Seahawks coming to town Sunday for a showdown on the lake front. The Bears have seen a lot of the Seahawks in recent seasons and they will need a good gameplan for clinching a winning season.
The Bears and the Seahawks have played four times since 2009, three in the regular season and one playoff game. For three of those games, including the 2011 divisional game at Soldier Field, the Seahawks have had Pete Carroll as their coach.
Over their last four meetings, the teams have split 2-2. But in the last two regular seasons the Seahawks have come into Chicago and handed our Bears a disappointing loss. In 2010 it was a 23-20 loss with the Bears running it only 14 times versus 39 passes in one of the early "WTF is Martz thinking?!" games.
Last season, it was a deflating 38-14 beatdown with Caleb Hanie filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. Josh McCown ended up coming in at the end but the damage was done. The Bears quarterbacks were sacked four times and were outplayed by Tavaris Jackson.
The Bears last beat the Seahawks at home in January of 2011, when the Bears defeated the worst playoff team of all time 35-24.
This game is certainly winnable, but as evidenced by recent meetings between these teams, it's important for the Bears to play their best. So what do they have to do?
1) Run the ball. Sounds simple enough, but it might not be exactly. The Seahawks have the 12th ranked rush defense, allowing only 108.6 yards per game. However, as we saw last week, running the ball regardless of the result can help this offense. Plus, there should be room to run on Seattle, they are allowing 4.6 yards per carry, the worst among the top-19 run defenses. But there is a chance the Bears are without Matt Forte, which would hurt their run offense, especially on the outside edges where the Seahawks are arguably weakest.
2) Get Cutler in a rhythm. We all know the Bears are better with Cutler than without him. There were a number of articles this week about the topic and I explored it last Friday. That said, we saw last Sunday that when Cutler is on, he can make any throw and even without gaudy numbers, be can be the difference maker for the Bears. For Mike Tice to get him in a rhythm early, using the short passing game, getting the plays in quickly and keep the offense moving, etc., will be imperative. Cutler completed 74.2% of his passes last Sunday and was slinging the ball into tight windows with ease. It's important that Tice gets Cutler that comfortable again and get Brandon Marshall involved. Last week Cutler targeted eight teammates and it would be well-advised against a stingy Seahawks secondary to get that many guys involved again. That especially means the TEs and Earl Bennett.
3) Use homefield advantage. The Seahawks, as most people know, have struggled on the road this year. They are 1-5 on the road, including blowing a 14-7 fourth quarter lead. Russell Wilson is playing about as well as any rookie but all eight of his interceptions have come on the road. It will be important to get an early lead and get the Soldier Field 4th Phase involved early and make it even tougher on the visiting team.
4) Play defense as usual. As I pointed out above, Wilson has only thrown INTs on the road. He is a scrambler and it will be important for the Bears to keep him contained and in the pocket and pressure him into making mistakes. The Bears will need their defensive line to play as well as it has because some key defenders could be missing, such as Charles Tillman and possibly Lance Briggs.
These are four simple things that I believe the Bears will need to do to help themselves stay in the W column and clinch a winning season for the second time in three seasons. Either way this will be a tough game for the Bears, the Seahawks are going to want to get the bad taste out of their mouth from their blown lead last week. They always play their best against the Bears and I expect a close game. It could be another one like last week where the numbers are kind of ugly but the Bears pull out the win.