Behind Enemy Lines: Bears at Seahawks, Pt. 3

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Doug Farrar of NorthwestFootball.net, head Behind Enemy Lines for a breakdown of Sunday's Week 3 matchup between the Bears and Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle. Let's finish this three-part series with matchups to watch and final predictions.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: BEARS OFFENSE VS. SEAHAWKS DEFENSE
QB Jay Cutler's deep ball vs. Seattle secondary:
The Seahawks are now down two starting defensive backs, with Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson out indefinitely. Last week against the Steelers, Cutler found a deep receiving threat in rookie Johnny Knox, and Knox could light up a Seattle defensive backfield that hasn't really been tested yet.

OT Orlando Pace vs. DE Patrick Kerney: While smart fans weren't expecting Pace to be the automatic All-Pro he was during the St. Louis portion of his career, the former No. 1-overall pick has underwhelmed so far in two games with the Bears. Sunday he faces Kerney, who, like Pace, is a former Pro Bowler trying to return to form after battling injuries, and he notched his first sack of the season last week against the 49ers. With Brandon Mebane possibly sidelined again, Kerney may be the only Seattle D-lineman of consequence.

Cutler can buy time in the pocket and escape Kerney's grasp with his mobility, but it's time for Matt Forte to find some lanes to run through on the ground.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: SEAHAWKS OFFENSE VS. BEARS DEFENSE
RB Justin Forsett vs. Chicago interior pass defense:
The second-year running back from Cal is a "Pocket Hercules" type who caught six passes for 57 yards against the 49ers last week. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Bears rank 26th in Pass Defense DVOA against running backs, and Forsett's ability to get open and do things in space could extend drives when the Seahawks need it most.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. CBs Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman: Like most elite receivers tend to do these days, Houshmandzadeh ran his mouth on conference call with the Chicago media Wednesday and provided some material for the bulletin board. Not only did he wonder why Bears general manager Jerry Angelo didn't pay him any attention during the free agency period, but he went on to say that he can get open on any corner 95 percent of the time. He plans to show Angelo what he's missing Sunday.

Even though Bowman has started only one NFL game, Houshmandzadeh knew an awful lot about him and might be targeting the second-year pro in this game.


RB Justin Forsett
Getty Images: David Paul Morris

SEATTLE WINS IF ...
... it wins the time of possession battle. This sounds odd after the Monday night game, in which the Dolphins had the ball over 45 minutes and still lost to the Colts, but the Seahawks have to establish a physical presence – as Miami did – while putting up the occasional big play – as the Dolphins were not able to do. This has been a problem for them in recent matchups against the Bears.

SEATTLE LOSES IF ...
... Chicago's defense is able to exploit Seattle's depleted offensive line. Down tackles Walter Jones and Sean Locklear, and possibly center Chris Spencer, the Seahawks are once again assembling their line with chewing gum and baling wire.

CHICAGO WINS IF ...
... Forte finally gets untracked running the football and takes some of the pressure off Cutler and the air attack. Averaging just 2.2 yards per carry thus far, Forte is primed for a breakout performance against a Seahawks defense that gave up 79- and 80-yard touchdown runs to San Francisco's Frank Gore in Week 2. Cutler should also be able to move the ball with Trufant, Seattle's best cornerback, in street clothes, but Forte needs to start looking like a difference maker again.

CHICAGO LOSES IF ...
... the turnover ratio gets out of whack again like it did in the season opener at Green Bay. Turnovers are always the great equalizer in this game, with bad teams able to beat good teams if they take care of the football on offense and manage to force a handful of mistakes on defense. Not that the Seahawks are a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, as many of the pigskins pundits believe they'll win the NFC West, but their injury list reads like "War and Peace" right now.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Doug Farrar:
This isn't a Seahawks team built to deal with teams like the Bears – physical teams that can run the ball and play strong defense up front. Injuries will start to take their toll on both sides of the ball, and the coaching staff will have to adjust. Add in the fact that Cutler's become more comfortable in his new offense, and it seems to be a recipe for a Bears victory. BEARS 27, SEAHAWKS 17.

John Crist: While a lot of people felt Seattle's 4-12 performance this past season was somewhat of an aberration because of a lame-duck coach in Mike Holmgren and a ridiculous amount of injuries on both sides of the ball, not much has changed thus far in 2009. With quarterback Matt Hasselbeck not expected to play and linebacker Lofa Tatupu nowhere to be found, on-field leadership might be an issue for the Seahawks. Chicago has played this team well in recent years, and I see more of the same Sunday. BEARS 24, SEAHAWKS 13.

To go back and read Part I of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where John answered five questions from Doug, Click Here. To read Part II, where Doug answered five questions from John, Click Here.


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John Crist is the publisher of BearReport.com. Doug Farrar is the publisher of NorthwestFootball.net.


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