Matchup to watch when the Seahawks are on offense:
Seattle's four-receiver set vs. DTs Tommie Harris and Darwin Walker
Last season, the Bears decimated the Seahawks 37-6 at Soldier Field. One of the most notable aspects of that game is that when the Seahawks went to four-wide sets to loosen up the pass rush, Harris would blow through a patchwork offensive line just about every time. With the Bears defense slowed by injuries and Harris not quite the force he is when totally healthy, Seattle might be able to test Chicago's secondary with multiple options through the air. If that happens, Chicago will have a tough time catching up.
Matchup to watch when the Seahawks are on defense:
DT Rocky Bernard vs. OGs Roberto Garza and Terrence Metcalf
Bernard is quietly having a monster season. He has the tackling ability of a big man, but a very quick first step and good burst. Cedric Benson's problems with productivity mean that the Seahawks won't have to stack the box, which will make things more difficult for Rex Grossman. If Seattle's line pushes those guards back, Chicago's offense is in for a long day.
WR Bernard Berrian and CB Marcus Trufant
Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
OT Walter Jones vs. DE Mark Anderson
Anderson is a wonderful pass-rusher and has great energy coming off the edge, but he hasn't been much of a factor in the running game and has begun losing snaps to former starter Alex Brown. Anderson's task won't get any easier Sunday, as he'll be facing one of the best tackles the game has ever seen and an eventual Hall-of-Famer in Jones. Despite a 6-7, 325-pound frame, Jones is incredibly agile in space and has completely shut down many defensive ends with much more impressive resumes than Anderson's.
Adewale Ogunleye will have his hands full with Sean Locklear on the other side of the line, so defensive coordinator Bob Babich must force the issue up the middle if he wants to generate consistent pressure on Matt Hasselbeck.
The Seahawks will win this game if ...
... Hasselbeck can control the game with his passing attack and Seattle's line can keep Harris and Ogunleye out of the backfield. Seattle's receivers have a positive matchup against Chicago's secondary, and the Bears simply don't have the offensive weapons to compete for 60 minutes.
The Seahawks will lose this game if ...
... Benson is able to get first downs, Seattle's defense has to address the running game, and Grossman exploits a set of cornerbacks without safety help. Field position will be important, so the Seahawks have to play the same game all of Chicago's opponents do – how do you stop Devin Hester?
The Bears will win this game if ...
... they accept the fact that they can't run the football and let Grossman sling the ball all over the field. Benson is a bust, sports fans, and there's just no way to hide it anymore. With Grossman being inserted back into the starting lineup for an injured (read: benched) Griese, it's time to stop asking him to be a game-manager and simply let him be who he is. Grossman went all the way to the University of Florida from Bloomington South High School in Indiana specifically to be a mad bomber in the passing game, not because he wanted to worry about having a balanced offense or control time of possession.
Neither Deon Grant nor Brian Russell is considered to be great in coverage at the safety positions, so there could be some big plays made down the field if the Chicago coaching staff takes the shackles off its gunslinging quarterback.
QB Matt Hasselbeck and DT Tommie Harris
The Bears will lose this game if ...
... the front four doesn't get after Hasselbeck. The Monsters of the Midway embarrassed an undefeated Seattle team in Week 4 last season with a 37-6 beatdown, a game that Harris simply took over in the early going. He'll need a similar effort because the Seahawks will throw early and often since, like the Bears, they are having so much trouble running the football. Three- and four-receiver packages didn't work last year because the offensive line couldn't protect Hasselbeck, so Chicago has to take that part of Mike Holmgren's game plan away again.
Corners Charles Tillman and Trumaine McBride can handle Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett on the outside, but safeties Adam Archuleta and Danieal Manning could have all kinds of trouble with the likes of Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson over the middle.
Doug Farrar: I think that the Seahawks will find a way to win a very close game. They're in for a far tougher time than they had against San Francisco and Hasselbeck will get banged around by Chicago's defense, but Seattle's defense isn't one to sleep on anymore. I'd expect defense and special teams to decide this one ...
SEAHAWKS 23, BEARS 17
John Crist: Although the Midway Monsters got back to their winning ways in Oakland last Sunday, that was a horrible Raiders team there were losing to late in the fourth quarter. Grossman is still Grossman, Benson is still Benson, and the offensive line again disappointed against a less-than-stellar front seven. Seattle should press the issue on defense and force some critical Chicago mistakes ...
SEAHAWKS 24, BEARS 16