NFL Wire News

Week 3 Preview: Bears at Seahawks

on

The Sports Xchange

Chicago Bears (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at CenturyLink Field, Seattle – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson

*Keys to the game: The Seahawks rarely blitzed Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay last Sunday night, and they’ll be wary of the versatile threat RB Matt Forte poses – especially on screen passes to help get backup QB Jimmy Clausen into the flow of the game. Clausen lacks a howitzer for an arm and the Bears certainly don’t want him pushing the ball vertically into the teeth of the Legion of Boom in a raucous road environment. It’s vital for the Bears to control the ball early, chew up some clock and for Clausen to avoid turnovers. If the Bears fall behind early, things could spiral out of control.

Chicago can keep the game within reach by controlling the trenches against a Seattle offensive line that has failed to open running lanes for Marshawn Lynch or give QB Russell Wilson adequate time in the pocket. Embattled offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell finally used the option part of the read-option late in Green Bay and suddenly the downtrodden offense began to move the ball consistently. Wilson isn’t a 4,000-yard pocket passes and needs to use legs as a weapon earlier in the game to prevent the Bears’ ends from crashing the edges and to create more breathing room for Lynch.

*Matchup to watch – Bears TE Martellus Bennett vs. Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor: The Seattle airwaves blew up with the news of Chancellor ending his holdout Wednesday, and the return of the Legion of Boom has re-ignited the fan base in advance of the Seahawks’ home opener. More important, the defense’s emotional and physical leader has returned. With Clausen likely unable – and the coaching staff not asking him – to attack vertically, Bennett is a critical underneath target and Seattle has been vulnerable to receiving tight ends in recent years.

*Player spotlight – Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham: Seattle gave up a former Pro Bowl center and a first-round pick for Graham, but he has been a non-factor in the first halves of games and was targeted just twice all game vs. the Packers. It is incumbent upon Bevell to get Graham in the mix early.

*Fast facts: Clausen has 71 pass attempts over the past two seasons with two touchdowns and three interceptions while being sacked five times. … In Seattle’s seven home wins during the 2014 regular season, the average margin of victory was 13.3 points.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The two-time defending NFC champions have endured a difficult two-week stretch to open the season. They return to the confines of CenturyLink Field for their home opener with Kam Chancellor back in the fold and a statement to make against a grossly overmatched backup quarterback.

*Our pick: Seahawks 34-19


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business