Welcome to the all-important week 3 of the preseason, where the starters play into the third quarter and the result still doesn't matter. Kind of like the points in Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
Either way, we're here. And Friday night's game is one for night owls, as it kicks off at 9:00 PM Central time. Kind of fitting that a Chicago audience would need a heavy supply of coffee for a game in the Starbucks capital of the world. Let's get into the Seattle Seahawks.
Last Year: Oh, no big deal. Won the NFC West with a 13-3 record, stomped their way through the playoffs and destroyed the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl. Just your average championship season, that's all.
This Year: ... The same place as everyone else, week three in the preseason with an 0-0 regular season record. In the preseason, they're 1-1, losing to the Broncos and beating the Chargers.
Rankings (as of 2013):
|Total Points||417 (8th)||231 (1st)|
|Total Yards||5,424 (17th)||4,378 (1st)|
|Rushing Yards||2,188 (4th)||1,626 (7th)|
|Passing Yards||3,236 (26th)||2,752 (1st)
Offense: The Seahawks offense largely revolves around the talent of powerful running back Marshawn Lynch and the mobile Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, the Seahawks' third round pick from two years ago. The two combined for nearly 1,800 rushing yards, Lynch alone with 1,257 of them, as the Seahawks' rushing offense ranked fourth overall last year. The passing game struggled a little, as high-priced free agent Percy Harvin made one reception before missing the remainder of the year with a hip injury. Things for Harvin still aren't settled, as this year he's suffered an ankle injury. Last year's leading receiver, Golden Tate, now resides in Detroit. Now, the receiving targets rotate around Doug Baldwin and the original Zach Miller. Ricardo Lockette and Jermaine Kearse both stand in line for some playing time, as well as second round pick Paul Richardson. Fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood had foot surgery in early August and is recovering, but is currently not listed on the Seattle depth chart.
The offensive line has been a strong point with tackle Russell Okung and former first round pick James Carpenter, but the right side starts second second-round pick Justin Britt at right tackle, with Eric Winston behind him as insurance.
Defense: The Seahawks boasted the best defense and best pass defense in the league last year, and a lot of that was through their league-leading 28 interceptions, league-leading 39 takeaways, strong pass-rush that created 43 sacks, and a very strong set of defensive backs. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are both out however, currently residing in Jacksonville, but the re-signed Michael Bennett (8.5 sacks), still-on-rookie-contract Bruce Irvin, and Cliff Avril all return, as do Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. They also added O'Brien Schofield, who in the Seahawks' preseason game on Friday, picked up a sack, tackle for loss, and four quarterback hits. The Seahawks played smothering, physical defense last year, and will probably continue to do so - just a hunch.
However, Irvin is on the preseason Physically Unable to Perform list, but could return next week after undergoing offseason hip surgery. Chancellor also had offseason hip surgery, but he may well play on Friday night.
So it should be pretty apparent what I'm looking for on Friday night. Besides coffee.
1) The Physical Defensive Front
The Bears' front line is going to have to be ready for a brawl. Seattle has some fierce pass-rushers, and will get after the Bears' quarterback array.
2) The Physical Defensive Backfield
While the Seahawks boast physical defensive backs, the Bears boast physical receivers. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are about as physical as they come, and should make for some good late-night television. If the Bears can beat press coverage, they can make some plays as they get in gear one final time.
Well, if the Bears' linebackers and defensive line needed another tune-up in run-stopping, they're about to get one. Lynch runs hard and gets tough yardage. The Bears looked better last week against Jacksonville tackling Toby Gerhart and company up the middle.
4) Receiver and Safety Carousel
The same thing as pretty much always. Even though the focus is on the starters this week, the backup wide receivers and safeties will still get extreme focus, especially with Santonio Holmes and Chris Conte presumably making their preseason debuts.
What are you watching for on Friday night?