Here, we’ll analyze each team’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and secondary unit, then decide who has the advantage in each group.
Since we’re still in preseason, some groups might shake out differently than they would in the regular season due to abnormal snap counts (i.e., youngsters getting more opportunities, veterans/starters not getting their usual playing time, etc.). Players to watch might also be a little different than expected, as with the uncertainty of who we’ll actually see suit up, most players to watch are based off what was seen in week one of the preseason.
Players to Watch: Justin Fields (CHI), Geno Smith (SEA)
Ideally, Justin Fields’ snap count would go up in his second preseason game, but head coach Matt Eberflus has already indicated the starters will play fewer reps due to the short week. Still, he’ll need to start showing signs of improvement after a somewhat mediocre game against Kansas City (4/7, 48yds., 0td, 0int., 78.3rtg.). Meanwhile, Geno Smith is presumed to get the start after Drew Lock recently tested positive for Covid-19. Smith performed adequately in the Seahawks’ preseason opener against the Steelers, throwing for 101 yards on 15 attempts, amassing an 85.7 rating.
On paper, the Bears have a major advantage in this category, as Fields has shown more explosiveness than Smith in recent history. But Smith did put up better stats in his first game. Advantage still goes to the Bears, but it isn’t as clear an advantage as it probably should be after last week’s performances.
Players to Watch: Trestan Ebner (CHI), David Montgomery, DeeJay Dallas (SEA), Rashaad Penny (SEA)
Will we see either of these team’s projected starters?
Probably. But it’s not a sure thing. David Montgomery returned to practice this past Monday after some minor injuries, so it is likely we see him suit up against the Seahawks. But with his position as RB1 a lock, as well as his recent injury history, the Bears may choose to be careful with Montgomery and sit him for at least another week. Similarly, Rashaad Penny recently returned to full practice for the Seahawks, so there’s a good chance he will get time on the field Thursday as well.
In terms of who we’ve already seen this offseason, the Seahawks have earned the advantage. Trestan Ebner looked solid in his Bears’ debut, rushing for 31 yards on six carries, while also adding in a receiving touchdown. For Seattle, DeeJay Dallas had an impressive game, running for 73 yards on 10 carries and forcing a couple missed tackles. Dallas also found the endzone on a 17-yard reception.
If Montgomery plays, the Bears’ have the better group as Montgomery has put up stellar stats when healthy. But, due to his uncertain status as well as the better performance out of Dallas in week one, Seattle wins the RB advantage for now.
Players to Watch: Darnell Mooney (CHI), Tajae Sharpe (CHI), Bo Melton (SEA), Dareke Young (SEA)
In the regular season, the advantage would go to the Seahawks; pretty handily too.
Their top duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have done plenty of good work in their careers, even if their production may take a hit this season since Russell Wilson is no longer throwing the rock to them. And while Darnell Mooney is good, the Bears can’t compete with those two at their best.
However, it is yet to be seen if either of them will make an appearance in this game, as neither did against the Steelers. There’s no real reason to at this point either, as their spots on this roster are pretty much solidified. So instead, a number of young players looking to make the roster will likely be the main receiving threats for the Seahawks. Bo Melton had a 39-yard snag against Pittsburgh as he amassed 47 yards, the most of any Seahawk receiver. Dareke Young was targeted the most, reeling in four receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown.
But the advantage here goes to the Bears assuming Darnell Mooney plays again, who is easily the best receiver in this group. His 26-yard grab in week one was highlight reel worthy, and he should get more looks in week two. Tajae Sharpe couldn’t let Mooney have all the fun, as he made his own jaw-dropping catch.
Players to Watch: Cole Kmet, Noah Fant (SEA)
Kmet is not a lock to play Thursday night, but it is looking more likely since he returned to practice this past Monday after dealing with some minor injuries. For Noah Fant, the former first-rounder will continue to try and impress his new team after being a key part of the Russell Wilson trade this past offseason. Fant caught two passes for 20 yards versus Pittsburgh.
There really isn’t much to separate Fant and Kmet in talent right now. Fant caught for more yards in one less game last season, but Kmet’s yards per reception was slightly higher, reflecting his bumper car style of play after the catch. But again, it is not a certainty we see Kmet suit up for the game, so advantage Seahawks here, based mostly on health. Even then, Fant has been amazingly consistent in his career (his lowest yards total in a season is 562, and his highest is 673), while people are still waiting to deliver a verdict on Kmet.
Player to Watch: Teven Jenkins (CHI), Larry Borom (CHI), Charles Cross (SEA)
A battle of two NFL bottom dwellers in recent seasons regarding the o-line. Bucking this trend, the Seahawks’ group actually looked good in their preseason debut, allowing a single pressure across 145 pass-blocking snaps (according to PFF). Despite this, Lock and Smith were still sacked a total of three times. Charles Cross, this year’s ninth overall pick out of Mississippi State, looked particularly good, showing he could be a building block for the Seahawks.
The Bears’ o-line didn’t look quite as good in their preseason opener, allowing five sacks on their QBs. Larry Borom was the standout of the group, not allowing a single pressure on pass-blocking snaps. Also keep an eye on Teven Jenkins, who recently got some first team snaps at right guard as his drama-filled summer continues.
The Bears o-line didn’t do much in their game to shake their troubled reputation, while the Seahawks surprised some with their play. Assuming that continues, the advantage Thursday night goes to Seattle.
Player to Watch: Dominique Robinson (CHI), Micah Dew-Treadway (CHI), Trevon Coley (CHI), Myles Adams (SEA)
A couple of roster-hopeful Bears did a good job getting their name out there against K.C. Dominique Robinson, one of the more intriguing picks from this past draft, had himself a sack, as did fellow rookie Micah Dew-Treadway. Trevon Coley was the star of the d-line, recording two sacks and a pass deflection. Look for these three to keep up the good work as they try to play themselves onto the Bears’ regular season roster.
Myles Adams was the only Seahawk d-linemen to pop off the stat sheet, getting himself a pass deflection and tackle-for-loss. Even if we start seeing some more regular names pop-up (i.e. Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson, Shelby Harris, Al Woods), it’s still hard to say the Seahawks can stack up to the Bears’ d-line corps between last week’s performances and the starters who might get their debut.
Players to Watch: Jack Sanborn (CHI), Matt Adams (CHI), Boye Mafe (SEA), Vi Jones (SEA)
Two rookie linebackers really shined through in last week’s games. For the Bears, it was Jack Sanborn, arguably the story of the game. Undrafted out of Wisconsin, Sanborn put on a clinic against the Chiefs, finishing with seven total tackles, a tackle-for-loss, a pass deflection, and an interception. It’s hard to have a better debut than that. Matt Adams also finished with seven total tackles, and will be an important name to watch as he might need to step up depending on what happens with Roquan Smith.
On the Seahawks’ side of things, it was Boye Mafe with the impressive rookie debut. The second-rounder had himself two sacks on the day, including a pivotal one in the fourth quarter. Fellow rookie Vi Jones has turned some heads, getting a sack as well as totaling six tackles.
It is a little hard to differentiate between these groups right now. Sanborn probably had the best performance of the group, but Mafe and Jones both provided their own value. The advantage probably leans Bears right now (the Bears’ defense as a whole had a better performance than the Seahawks’), but the introduction of more starting caliber players as well as how the rookies continue to perform could easily swing things the other way.
Players to Watch: Jaquan Brisker (CHI), Kyler Gordon (CHI)
Seattle’s secondary didn’t look too sharp in their debut, giving up a total of 224 yards and 15 first downs. The Bear’s group gave up 205 yards and 11 first downs by comparison. Individually, Jaquan Brisker had the best performance between the two groups. The rookie passed the eye test with flying colors, busting it all over the field while laying big hits left and right, and even getting himself a tackle-for-loss. He’s missed some recent practice, so his status is in doubt.
Brisker’s fellow rookie/exciting prospect Kyler Gordon may make his debut Thursday, so keep an eye out for him.
No one Seahawk DB particularly stood out, so just be on the lookout for any potential starter making their preseason debut. Assuming we see a lot more of the Bears’ starting secondary (due to how young most of them are and their need for preseason snaps), it’s logical to predict Chicago’s secondary will be the better unit of the two.
Bears: Five Advantages
- Wide Receivers
- Defensive Line
Seahawks: Three Advantages
- Running Backs
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Line