Week 2 concludes with a pair of NFC teams looking to avoid 0-2 start
There is an increased sense of urgency this week for the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears as both teams are looking to avoid an 0-2 start this season.
Seattle (0-1) went into Mile High Stadium and took Denver to the wire but lost 27-24 to the Broncos. Russell Wilson completed 19 of 33 passes for 298 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. However, Wilson was his own worst enemy at times as he was sacked six times and several of those could have been avoided. The inability to run the football consistently didn't help, as the Seahawks managed just 64 yards on 16 carries.
Chicago (0-1) sprinted out to a 20-0 lead against Green Bay last Sunday night at Lambeau Field. The Bears did a nice job of creating big plays defensively, especially a Khalil Mack interception that he returned for a touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky completed 23 of 35 passes for 171 yards and managed the offense well, especially in the first half. But football is a 60-minute game for a reason and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers led an epic comeback in the second half on one leg. The Packers rallied to beat Chicago 24-23 but if you are a Bears fan. you had a lot of things to be encouraged about heading into this battle against Seattle.
Seattle at Chicago
Kickoff: Monday, Sept. 17 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Bears -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks linebackers
Bobby Wagner was declared out for the game on Monday night with an apparent groin injury that was suffered in the Denver game, which only adds to the linebacker issues for Seattle. K.J. Wright is going to miss this week’s game as he continues to recover from knee surgery. The Seahawks went out and signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who recently pled guilty to insider trading and is awaiting sentencing. This move by head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider set off a fun social media firestorm earlier this week. Kendricks was recently released by the Cleveland Browns because of his legal issues. Now, the question is how productive will Kendricks be after just a couple of practices? Look for the Bears to try to attack the heart of the Seattle defense with short- to medium-range passes and runs right up the middle with running back Jordan Howard and maybe even Trubisky. Tarik Cohen should be more of a factor as well as there should be more opportunities to get him the ball out in space on Monday night.
2. Chicago defense vs. Seahawks' offensive line
Khalil Mack should have a significant advantage against Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi and be in position for a huge day just like Von Miller last week. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will need to use a mix of extra tight ends, running backs to stay in and help Ifedi against Mack. Also, the extra attention on Mack should free up defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris to have opportunities to make plays against Wilson. Robertson-Harris caused plenty of havoc last week against the Packers especially when backup quarterback DeShone Kizer was in the game for Green Bay. Leonard Floyd will have a critical role in this game in helping to contain Wilson in the pocket. It will be up to Floyd to win his share of one-on-one battles against the Seahawks' offensive line, but if he does than Wilson won’t be able to run wild.
3. Seattle running game
Chris Carson and Rashad Penny each carried the ball seven times last Sunday and Carson had the most success with 51 yards. Penny struggled to get going as he gained just eight yards on his seven carries. So, for right now if you are the Seahawks it would be wise to let Carson have at least 15 touches to see if he can seize the No. 1 role in the backfield. In addition, the zone read option with Wilson could come into play to try and slow down what should be an aggressive pass rush for the Bears. Wilson only carried the ball twice in Week 1 and with the instability along the offensive front, it's going to be important for him to see if he can't make something happen with his legs.
Historically, the Seahawks have been excellent in prime-time games under Pete Carroll as they are 7-1 on "Monday Night Football" and 22-4-1 overall. Thus, you can expect Seattle to not simply roll over against Chicago, even on the road. Now, with the amount of injuries on the defensive side of the football it is going to be an uphill battle for the Seahawks to even their record at 1-1. Frank Clark is going to have to pressure Mitchell Trubisky all night long and cause a turnover. Seattle's offense needs big plays from either Tyler Lockett or Brandon Marshall in the passing game, especially with Doug Baldwin sidelined with a knee injury. In the end, the Bears are going to take a step forward with Trubisky and the offense in this game and make enough explosive plays to outlast the Seahawks and improve to 1-1 on the season.
Prediction: Bears 27, Seahawks 20
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.