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Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks Prediction and Preview

The Bears and Seahawks each have a chance to bounce back from tough losses on Sunday

The Bears and Seahawks each have a chance to bounce back from tough losses on Sunday

As we reach Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season, the afternoon slate features two teams playing on short weeks. The Chicago Bears will head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks, with both teams eagerly seeking a victory. The Bears (4-10) are coming off another embarrassing loss, this time against the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football." Meanwhile, the Seahawks (5-9) just couldn't keep up with the Rams on the road in a game that was rescheduled and played on Tuesday because of a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Although both teams are enduring losing seasons, and have numerous injured players on their rosters, they are looking to finish the season on a high note. The Bears have numerous pending free agents who are looking to impress in order to get their next contract, and head coach Matt Nagy is fighting for his job. As for the Seahawks, they want to defend their home field which is one of the most difficult places to play in the league. And neither team has incentive to tank, since they traded their first-round picks for Justin Fields and Jamal Adams, respectively. Expect this to be a hard-hitting game.

Chicago (4-10) at Seattle (5-9)

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 26 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Foles vs. Wilson
During the last offseason, Bears general manager Ryan Pace negotiated with the Seahawks about trading for Russell Wilson to solve their longstanding quarterback issues. A deal was never reached during those discussions. So instead, the Bears traded up to the 11th overall pick to select Ohio State's Justin Fields, who has a similar skillset to Wilson. Unfortunately, these quarterbacks won't have a chance to face off, since Fields was ruled out Friday with an ankle injury he sustained last week.

With Fields out and Andy Dalton sidelined with a groin injury — after spending time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list — the Bears will turn back to Nick Foles. The veteran will be seeing his first action since the 2020 season, when he passed for 1,852 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions over nine games.

Bears fans are hopeful that Fields will one day be as great as Wilson, and he'll get a front-row seat to watch. Despite the Seahawks struggles this year, and him dealing with a finger injury that required midseason surgery, Wilson ranks seventh in the NFL with 7.7 yards per attempt, ninth with a 99.0 passer rating, and sixth with a 1.6 percent interception rate. He continues to play at a consistent level, even through the hard times the team has endured this season. However, he's also taken 29 sacks this season, which is music to the ears of a Bears defense that has the third-most sacks (40) in the league.

What both players bring to the table is the following: solid arm strength, accuracy, toughness, speed, mobility, the ability to extend plays with their feet, and calmness under pressure. This would have been be a fun matchup to watch if Fields had been able to play, but at least the Bears can watch someone that their rookie can aspire to play like.

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2. The Bears keep shooting themselves in the foot
The Bears have been haunted over the last two weeks by mistakes, penalties (16 for 132 yards), turnovers (six), questionable decision making, questionable play-calling, and the inability to make halftime adjustments. When you combine their games against both the Packers and Vikings; the Bears have been outscored 62-39, including 31-9 in the second halves. Although they've out-gained those opponents 717-632, the Bears' offense has gone 7-for-25 on third down conversions and 2-for-6 on fourth down, and the offensive line has allowed Fields to get sacked five times during that stretch.

Against the Vikings, specifically, the Bears had five trips to the red zone and only two of them resulted in points. There was a second-quarter field goal, but the other four ended in a lost fumble, two turnovers on downs, and a late fourth quarter touchdown which was essentially the final play of the game that ultimately had no effect on the outcome. Part of it is poor execution, part of it is multiple miscues by the players, but the other part is the play-calling, which has been questioned all season long. 

The Bears' defense has held its ground the best they can, but with the injuries, COVID cases, and with the struggles of the offense, they can only do so much before they start getting tired over the course of the game. Chicago need to clean up most, if not all, of these mistakes and need to do so quickly. It can't afford to keep playing this way against an opportunistic Seahawks team that can make opponents pay for said mistakes. 

Chicago own the league's fourth-worst total offense (307.4 ypg) and scoring offense (17.1 ppg), and it's also dead last in passing offense (182.1). The Bears are much better on the defensive side, as they rank ninth in total defense (326.2 ypg) and fourth against the pass (205.4 ypg). But they have had some issues defending the run (120.9 ypg, 21st), and they give up too many points (24.9 ppg, 20th) for the yardage they allow.

3. Don't sleep on the Seahawks
Although 2021 marks just the third losing season for the Seahawks under Pete Carroll, this team still has plenty of talent to contend with. When healthy, Wilson is effective as any quarterback. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett is 11th in yards per reception (16.5 ypa) and will return after missing a game on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Rashaad Pennny has 176 yards on 27 carries since taking over as the starting running back two weeks ago. Linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the NFL in both solo tackles (88) and total tackles (158), while fellow linebacker Jordyn Brooks is seventh in the NFC West in tackles for loss (8).

Seattle also has the league's fourth-best scoring defense (20.1 ppg) and has won two of its last three games, having scored 20 or more points in three of their last five games. Don't be fooled by the Seahawks' record. This is still a talented team that plays hard and can still give opposing teams fits for 60 minutes. They'll be looking to exploit the flaws within this Bears team.

Final Analysis

The Seahawks lead this all-time series 11-7 and have won three of the last five meetings with the Bears. Although Chicago was victorious in their last meeting back in 2018, Seattle has won two of their last three matchups with the Bears at Lumen Field. Both teams have struggled against the opposite division, as Seattle is 0-2 against the NFC North this year and Chicago is 0-3 against the NFC West in 2021. 

Despite this year's struggles, the Seahawks are 9-6 in their last 15 home games. And with the Bears having issues up and down both the roster and coaching staff, the Seahawks will successfully defend their home field again.

Prediction: Seahawks 21, Bears 14