When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Soldier Field, Chicago
Records: Seahawks 6-5 and second in the NFC West after last week’s 24-21 loss to the Dolphins in Miami; Bears 8-3 and first in the NFC North after last week’s 28-10 victory over the Vikings at Soldier Field
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Chris Myer, Tim Ryan and Jaime Maggio
Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: 49ers (8-2-1) at Rams (4-6-1); Cardinals (4-7) at Jets
The Seahawks’ pass rush vs. the Bears’ patchwork offensive line: This might be putting the pass rush before the Seahawks’ ability to stop the Bears’ rushing attack, especially after they’ve allowed an average of 155 rushing yards in their past five games. But they have to find a way to contain Matt Forte, put Jay Cutler is a situation where he has to throw to beat them and then pressure the Bears’ gunslinger of a QB into making mistakes. That is, of course, asking a lot. The Seahawks have generated 12 sacks while going 1-5 on the road. And the Bears have compensated for the growing number of injuries to their linemen by using a quick-rhythm passing game. If the Seahawks are going to pull the upset, ends Chris Clemons (three of his eight sacks on the road) and Bruce Irvin (two of his seven sacks on the road) have to be more productive and disruptive against the Bears’ what’s-their-line blockers.
One to watch
Marshawn Lynch vs. the Bears’ run defense: Lynch hit a bump in the road last week, as the Dolphins’ limited him to 46 yards on 19 carries for a season-low 2.4-yard average. It broke his string four consecutive 100-yard efforts, when he had run for 456 yards, three touchdowns and a 5.4-yard average. Now comes Lance Briggs. And Brian Urlacher. And Chris Conte. And Charles Tillman. And Major Wright. And Tim Jennings. They are the leading tacklers on the No. 8-ranked run defense, and each has at least 60. The past two seasons, Lynch has run for only 44 and 42 yards at Soldier Field, but also scored three touchdowns in a pair of Seahawks’ victories.
Fun to watch
Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner vs. Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall: How heavily do the Bears and Cutler lean on the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Marshall? He leads the team with 81 receptions, two fewer than next four the Bears combined – Forte (27), Earl Bennett (22), Devin Hester (18) and Alshon Jeffery (16). Marshall also has been targeted 124 times, with the Bears’ next-highest receiver getting 40. You get the picture. Limit Marshall, as the 49ers and Packers did, and your chances of beating the Bears increase greatly. The 6-4 Browner and 6-3 Sherman have the size to matchup with him, the coverage skills to defend him and the incentive to win more often than they lose.
One tough task
The Seahawks’ ball-handlers vs. the Bears’ ball-hawks: Priority One as the Seahawks look to win on the road for only the second time this season is to win the turnover battle. That’s definitely easier said than done against the Bears, who lead the league with 33 takeaways and are plus-13 in turnover differential. The Seahawks are minus-5 on the road, where they’ve turned the ball over 11 times. But they returned two interceptions for touchdown during a 31-point second half in last year’s 38-14 win at Soldier Field, when neither Cutler nor Forte played because of injuries.
In three games against the other three teams in the NFC North – Packers, Lions and Vikings – Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has completed 64 percent of his passes (51 of 80) for 539 yards, with seven touchdown passes and one interception. … The Seahawks’ five road losses have been by a total of 24 points. … The Bears have scored 95 fourth-quarter points. … The Bears have returned seven interceptions for touchdowns, including two each by Tillman and Briggs. … Jennings leads the league with eight interceptions, while Tillman leads the league with seven forced fumbles. … The Bears have allowed 175 points, the Seahawks 185. … The Seahawks lead the regular-season series 9-4 and have won five of the past seven, but the Bears knocked the Seahawks out of the playoffs in 2006 and 2010 with wins at Soldier Field. … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 90 tackles, while Briggs and Urlacher lead the Bears with 80 and 79.