Week 3 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks

Week 3 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #8 of the Chicago Bears rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 22, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Bears landed in Seattle late Friday after one final practice. In a game that seems almost impossible to win on paper without their starting quarterback Jay Cutler and No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the Bears will need a miracle and then some to pull out the road victory.

Both the Bears and Seahawks currently sit at 0-2. The Bears have allowed a league-high 79 points in losses to NFC contenders Green Bay and Arizona. Seattle on the other hand has lost back-to-back road games against St. Louis and the Packers to open their season.

The Seahawks currently lead the all-time series 10-6 as the points scored is simply a margin of three points (SEA 355, CHI 352). Seattle is 4-2 against the Bears in games played at their home stadium. The last time these two squared off in Seattle was in 2009 when the Bears won 25-19.

This will be the first ever meeting at the now sponsored Century Link Field. It was previously called Qwest Field from 2004-2010.

2012 served as the last matchup between these two NFC teams as a then-rookie quarterback Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to a 23-17 overtime win in what turned out to be Brian Urlacher’s final NFL game.

Even though they’ve disappointed thus far, the Seahawks own many advantages heading into this game. Not only do they have the loudest crowd in the league on their side, they also return home against a banged-up Bears team that has backups starting all over the place offensively.

Never say never about an upset win on the road, but with quarterback Jimmy Clausen under center in only his second start since 2010, the Bears’ chances don’t look good.

Here’s a breakdown of what both teams are thinking heading into Sunday’s 17th all-time meeting.

What the Seahawks are thinking

Much like the Packers and Cardinals, Seattle will have a plan in place to try to slow down running back Matt Forte. It could be easier for the Seahawks to execute their plan now that Clausen is under center and the Bears likely going to be rather limited offensively.

The Seahawks defense hasn’t been as dominant as year’s past, but they still rank 18th in rushing yards allowed per game (101.5) and 21st in yards per carry (3.7) this year.

Through two games this season, Forte has 271 total yards from scrimmage which are the sixth-most in the league. His 202 rushing yards are the third-most behind only DeAngelo Williams and Carlos Hyde. Forte’s averaged a career-best 5.2 yards per carry average.

In three regular season games against Seattle, Forte has been held to 2.86 yards per carry while managing 253 total yards and two touchdowns. After Clausen entered the game late in the second quarter last week for Cutler, Forte still managed eight carries for 50 yards and two receptions for 19 yards.

Having safety Kam Chancellor back after he officially ended his holdout this week will be big for the Seahawks secondary in their efforts to stack the box against the Bears’ running backs. But, don’t expect him to play a full game as he hasn’t taken part in practices all off-season.

On the offensive side of the ball for Seattle, Wilson owns a 71.8 completion percentage with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. He also has 109 rushing yards which ranks second behind Marshawn Lynch’s 114.

Lynch was only able to get in one limited practice this week as he sat out the other two days with a calf injury. That calf issue has Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll calling Lynch a game-time decision.

If Lynch can’t suit up, ninth-year veteran Fred Jackson and undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls would carry the load alongside Wilson. It wouldn’t be an ideal situation for Seattle, but even without Lynch they should be able to generate enough points to win.

However, having Lynch active even if he’s not 100 percent would be a big boost considering he scored 12 of his 17 touchdowns at home a season ago.

What the Bears are thinking

The Bears have to be solid on both sides of the ball to keep up in this game. After generating their first turnover defensively a week ago on a Jared Allen interception, Vic Fangio has to be preaching more of the same to his unit.

However, Fangio also needs his defense to not only get more pressure on the quarterback, but also make more stops on third downs. The Bears rank as the worst team in the league in third-down percentage (58) as they’ve allowed opponents to convert 11-of-19 third-down attempts.

Along with Oakland, the Bears are the only other team to not have a sack on the stat sheet. They had six quarterback hits on statue like quarterback Carson Palmer last week, but couldn’t seal the deal.

Against the elusive and speedy Wilson this week it will be even tougher for Pernell McPhee and Co. One thing that could work in the Bears favor is the fact that Wilson has been sacked eight times this season.

It remains to be seen if an effective pass rush will help the Bears cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball play, but it wouldn’t hurt. Terrance Mitchell should see time as well at cornerback with Sherrick McManis playing in nickel packages.

The most important matchup for the Bears’ linebackers is against tight end Jimmy Graham. Even though the three-time Pro Bowler only has seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown for his new team, he’s destined for a big game.

In three games against the Bears as a member of the Saints, Graham averaged seven receptions for just over 100 yards. Inside linebackers Shea McLellin and Christian Jones will have their hands full with the 6-foot-7 Miami product.

Offensively, the plan is simple: keep Clausen upright as much as possible, avoid turnovers and run effectively to set up the play-action passing game.

None of that will be easy on the road, but with offensive coordinator Adam Gase on the Bears’ side you never know what creative plays he could dial up.

Injury Report

BearsOUT: Quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: Linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE:
 Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (knee), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (back/hip)
PROBABLE
: Running back Matt Forte (knee), guard Matt Slauson (thigh/toe) and wide receiver Marquess Wilson (shoulder)

SeahawksOUT: Cornerback Tharold Simon (toe) and safety Steven Terrell (hip)
QUESTIONABLE: Running back Marshawn Lynch (calf) and tight end Luke Willson (back)
PROBABLE: Defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), quarterback Tavaris Jackson (ankle), linebacker Mike Morgan (hamstring), linebacker Bobby Wagner (ankle) and cornerback Cary Williams (thigh)

Final Score Prediction

Seahawks 24, Bears 14

This could be one of those games that’s either just a blowout from the start or closer than what people anticipate. With a week to gameplan with Clausen, Gase should be able to keep the Bears’ offense going more often than not.

Space can be found against the Seahawks defense, but the same can be said for the Bears’ defense. Wilson is too much for the Bears to handle which is why I’m giving the edge to the home team.

Season predictions: (1-1)

Weather.com Forecast Report

Mostly Sunny. High 64F. North winds 10-15 MPH.

look ahead

The Bears host the Oakland Raiders next Sunday before traveling to Kansas City to battle the Chiefs.

Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Sunday’s must-win game in Seattle, here.

Thoughts on the Bears-Seahawks Week 3 matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.

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