Keys to the game: Seahawks at Bears
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Run, run, run the ball repeatedly down the field.
That's the formula Seattle has followed to win four of its past five games, and it's not impossible to do that against Chicago. Sure, the Bears rank 10th in rushing yards allowed per game, but that's misleading. The Bears allow 4.4 yards per carry, more than all but 10 teams in the league. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy for Seattle to run, especially since Chicago figures to load up eight men in the box in hopes of forcing Tarvaris Jackson to throw the ball downfield.
2. Don't be too short-sighted.
Speaking of Jackson throwing downfield, he hasn't done much of that the past three games. Actually, he hasn't done any of it. Seattle hasn't completed a pass of 30 or more yards in any of the past three games yet from what coach Pete Carroll and Jackson say, the quarterback is feeling the best he has since suffering the strained pectoral muscle. Well, time to show it. The Seahawks' success one the ground is going to suck the defense toward the line of scrimmage, leaving an opening to try and go over the top.
3. Don't outkick the punt coverage.
Devin Hester's availability is a question mark because of an ankle injury, but Seattle needs to be prepared for him. The Bears average 18.1 yards per punt return, absolute tops in the NFL. The Seahawks' Jon Ryan is putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season with 26 punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line - tied for second-most in the NFL - and a net average of 39.9 yards per punt. He also booted a ball to Hester in October 2010 that he was supposed to send out of bounds. Hester ran it back for a score, and a mistake like that could decide this game.
Three keys to Bears victory
1. Win the turnover battle.
Turnover ratio is the secret decoder ring that explains Seattle's season. Seahawks have are 0-4 when they commit more turnovers than their opponent compared to 4-1 when the opponent has more turnovers. Want to know why Seattle was won four of its last five games? The Seahawks have committed four turnovers total in the past five games compared to 12 takeaways in that time. The Bears have 27 takeaways this season, which ranks as third-most in the league.
2. Don't be sluggish to start.
The Bears have scored 10 first-half points total in the three games since Jay Cutler went out with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. The Bears were averaging 16.4 first-half points in the 10 games Cutler started. With Seattle's new-found proficiency in running the ball, it's imperative the Bears don't fall behind early because otherwise the Seahawks are going to start bleeding the clock dry.
3. Use the aggressiveness of Seattle's cornerbacks against them.
Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have been better than anyone had a right to expect this season. They are tall, aggressive and at their best playing press coverage. They're also vulnerable to double moves as St. Louis showed on Monday night. Even in those situations when the Seahawks have a lead, they just can't help themselves from pressuring receivers, which leaves them vulnerable to getting beat for deep passes.
Chicago DE Julius Peppers vs. Seahawks offensive line.
One of Russell Okung's signature games last season was his pass protection vs. Peppers and the Bears in Week 6. Well, he's hurt. So is Seahawks rookie right tackle James Carpenter. Peppers has nine sacks and he isn't going to make it easy for the Seahawks to help by lining up in the same spot every time so it's imperative for Seattle to recognize exactly where he is - on the left or right side, at end or inside at tackle - and keep him from turning Jackson into his own personal pocket piñata.
Seattle has won four of the last six regular-season meetings between the teams, but that doesn't include a pair of playoff losses to Chicago in the previous five seasons. The Seahawks are 8-4 vs. the Bears in the regular season, tied for their best regular-season winning percentage against any NFC opponent.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call