Five Things to Watch Sunday

Bear Report is covering the afternoon matchup in Week 11 between the Bears and Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle, and here are the top five things to be on the lookout for that could have a major effect on the final score.

1. Can Hester pop a big one in the return game after three invisible weeks?
Nobody denies the fact that Devin Hester is the most feared return specialist in football, yet he hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase his unique skills lately. Philadelphia did everything possible to keep the ball out of his hands in Week 7 and Detroit followed suit in Week 8, but the Raiders challenged the second-year marvel last Sunday in Oakland and limited him to just 48 yards on eight combined kick and punt returns. And while the Bears have still been winning the field-position game for the most part when teams kick high and short or punt out of bounds, the lightning-strike score has been missing since Hester brought back a punt 89 yards all the way to paydirt against Minnesota in Week 6.

The Seahawks are probably going to score their fair share of points Sunday because Mike Holmgren's passing attack has been sharp lately, so a heartbreaker from Hester might prove to be the difference in this pivotal matchup.

2. Will we still see the same Grossman under center after all this time?
Highly-criticized quarterback Rex Grossman will be making his first start since Week 3 with Brian Griese nursing a sprained left shoulder, but any Bears fan who thinks that the former starter has somehow reinvented himself since his benching is not being realistic. This is still the same guy who has trouble avoiding pressure, turns the football over too often, and makes questionable decisions that can cost his team a game. However, he's also the same signal-caller with a cannon for a right arm and periodically delivers the kind of throws that make you stand up and say, "Wow!"

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner would be wise to turn Grossman loose and let him chuck the ball all over the field because he'll never be the Trent Dilfer-like game-manager this team curiously wants him to be.

3. Could Anderson get the best of Jones like he did a few times last season?


DE Mark Anderson
Morry Gash/AP Images
Week 4 of last season was when rookie defensive end Mark Anderson really started to make a name for himself, sacking QB Matt Hasselbeck twice in a 37-6 prime time pasting of the Seahawks. What was even more impressive for the fifth-round pick was the fact that he beat arguably the best left tackle in all of football, Hall-of-Famer in waiting Walter Jones. Anderson is a starter now as opposed to a situational pass-rusher and has been exposed to some degree defending the run, but this could be the game where he gets back on track because Seattle while rely heavily on its aerial assault with RB Shaun Alexander on the shelf for a second consecutive week.

There has been some chatter that Alex Brown could win his starting job back before long because he's played very well lately, so Anderson will need to have a big day if he wants to ensure that he'll be atop the depth chart for the rest of this season.

4. Is this finally the week we start seeing more of Peterson and Wolfe?
Cedric Benson had a career high in attempts last week against an Oakland team with one of the worst rush defenses in all of football, yet the third-year tailback still only managed 2.6 yards per carry. Turner committed to the running game and fed the ball to his featured back 28 times, but he only put up 72 yards and is now averaging a pitiful 3.0 yards per carry through nine games and 177 rushes – sixth most in the league, by the way. And even though head coach Lovie Smith is loyal to a fault and gives his favorite players an awful lot of rope with which to hang themselves (see Rex Grossman), there's simply no way to hide the fact that Benson has been a colossal bust this season.

Adrian Peterson deserves more of an opportunity on offense and is a much more well-rounded back than Benson will ever be, and it's time for Garrett Wolfe to show what he can do and finally get into the huddle with some regularity.

5. How will the Bears defend Seattle's four-receiver set this time?
The Seahawks were having a ton of success throwing the football in the early going last season, mostly because of the mismatches they were creating in the secondary with a lot of four-wide formations. However, the Bears completely took that away in their Week 4 victory, as Tommie Harris was a one-man wrecking crew from his defensive tackle position and Anderson was getting around Jones off the edge quite frequently. Seattle consequently went away from that portion of its playbook in the playoff rematch this past January, but Holmgren will most likely put three and four receivers on the field early and often Sunday because his offense simply can't run the ball very well right now.

Not only does the front four need to come up with another consistent effort getting after Hasselbeck, but safeties Adam Archuleta and Danieal Manning can't have the continual breakdowns in coverage they've both been guilty of at times this season.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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  • All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...

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