Luck Continues to Go the Bears' Way

The Chicago Bears spent last week watching film on the Saints, who won the Super Bowl last year. But with Seattle taking care of New Orleans, now the Seahawks are on their way to Soldier Field.

After a regular season filled with good luck, the Bears get to open the postseason against the team with the worst record to ever make it to the playoffs in a non-strike season.

But that might not be quite the advantage it was considered before the Seahawks pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history, knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 41-36.

The Seahawks, 7-9 in the regular season, are the only team in league history to win a division title with a losing record.

The Seahawks are no stranger to upset victories. Their first three wins this season came as underdogs, including a 23-20 victory in Week 6 at Soldier Field over the Bears, who were 6-point favorites.

In that first game, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, a 12-year veteran, had one of his better outings in what has been, statistically, one of his worst seasons. He completed 25 of 40 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 87.7. His go-to guy in that game, as it has been for most of the season, was king-sized wide receiver Mike Williams.

The Bears had no solution for the 6-5, 235-pound Williams, who was targeted 15 times and caught 10 passes for 123 yards, exploiting coverage by both cornerbacks Charles Tillman and 5-8 Tim Jennings, who was, and will be, at an extreme size disadvantage.

That was quarterback Jay Cutler's first game back for the Bears after a concussion in Week 4, and he threw for 290 yards but completed just 17 of 39 passes and was sacked six times.

Most of the Seahawks' pass-rushing pressure came from the outside and was provided by blitzes that utilized defensive backs, who combined for 4.5 sacks.

That was just the first game at left guard for Chris Williams, the second game for rookie J'Marcus Webb at right tackle and the fourth game at left tackle for Frank Omiyale. And it was two games before Roberto Garza reclaimed his spot at right guard following arthroscopic knee surgery.

In the nine games the Bears have played with their current offensive line alignment, Cutler has been sacked 22 times. In the previous seven games, he was sacked 31 times.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz called just 12 running plays compared to 47 passes against the Seahawks. That game was Exhibit A for the Bears when it came time to self-scout during the bye two weeks later, and they realized the need for more balanced play-calling.


CB D.J. Moore
Scott Boehm/Getty

UNDER THE RADAR
D.J. Moore barely touched the field last year as a rookie, playing briefly in just three games. But the 5-9, 183-pounder has found a niche as the Bears' nickel cornerback. He was third on the team with four interceptions, one of which he returned 54 yards for a touchdown. "He's another guy who was on the outside looking in when we started the season," coach Lovie Smith said. "But he's made play after play throughout the season."

BY THE NUMBERS
Running back Matt Forte played the best football of his three-year career in the second half of the season, getting stronger as the season wore on. In his last six games, Forte averaged at least 4.9 yards per carry in five of them. He finished with 1,069 yards and a career-best 4.5-yard average per carry.

PLAYER NOTES
RB Chester Taylor has carried 68 times for 107 yards in the last nine games, an average of 1.6 yards per carry. ...

Cutler had seven carries for 10 yards in the final three regular-season games, after running for 222 yards on 43 carries in the first 13 games, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. ...

WR Earl Bennett, who sat out the final regular-season game with a sprained ankle, is expected to be full strength for the divisional-round game. In the five games before that, Bennett caught 18 passes for 264 yards and a 14.7-yard average with two touchdowns. ...

WR Devin Hester had eight punt returns for 194 yards in the final five regular-season games for an average of 24.3 yards per attempt and one touchdown, a 64-yarder. ...

LB Brian Urlacher had 63 tackles in the five games before the regular-season finale, according to Bears statistics.


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