When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PDT, Soldier Field, Chicago
Record: 4-1 and first in the NFC North after a 23-6 win over the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday.
Where they rank: No. 27 on offense (23rd rushing, 24th passing); No. 6 on defense (3rd rushing, 17th passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 7-4, but the Bears won the last meeting – 25-19 at Qwest Field in Week 3 last season.
Star power: Brian Urlacher. At 32 and coming off wrist surgery that ended his 2009 season during the opener, the Bears’ six-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker – and tackling machine – just wouldn’t be the same. Right? Only if it’s right to be wrong. Urlacher, who was born in Pasco, has picked up right where he left off. He is the leading tackler (34) on the league’s sixth-ranked defense and his big-play ledger includes a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He will be the primary force Justin Forsett and just-arrived Marshawn Lynch will have to deal with in the running game, and also play his usual pre-snap mind games with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Unsung hero: Israel Idonije. When the Bears released Mark Anderson last week, Idonije lost his competition for the starting defensive end spot opposite Julius Peppers, the Bears’ big free-agent acquisition this year. Complacent? Hardly. Idonije had a trio of sacks among his seven tackles in Sunday’s win over the Panthers. The last time he did that? During his college career for the Manitoba Bisons. In his previous six seasons for the Bears he totaled eight sacks.
On the spot: Whoever plays quarterback if it’s not Jay Cutler. A concussed Cutler sat out the Panthers’ game after being sacked nine times in the previous game against the New York Giants. That forced the Bears to start 38-year-old Todd Collins, who threw four interceptions while completing 6 of 16 passes for 32 yards – a performance that created a 6.2 passer rating. That led the Bears to make the move to Caleb Hanie, who completed 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards in the fourth quarter when he wasn’t handing off to Matt Forte (166 yards) or Chester Taylor (43 yards).
Burning question: What in the name of Mike Ditka is going on here? BQ, part II: Is Mike Martz still the Bears’ offensive coordinator? The Bears ran the ball 42 times against the Panthers for 218 yards. It was their biggest day running the ball since they got 223 yards against the Cardinals on Oct. 28, 1990, when Ditka was coaching them; Forte’s career-high 166-yard effort included TD runs of 18 and 68 yards on the Bears’ first two possession; the Bears had 122 rushing yards in the first quarter – 101 by Forte, making him the first Bear to surpass triple digits in a quarter since James Allen did it against the Ravens on Dec. 20, 1998; 10 of the Bears’ 13 first downs were generated by running the ball. The flip side of this, of course, is that a Martz-coordinated offense passed the ball only 19 times. That will happen when your starting QB is out with a concussion.
Familiar faces: In addition to Urlacher, six-time Pro Bowl C Olin Kreutz played at the University of Washington (1995-97). Offensive line coach Mike Tice played tight end for the Seahawks from 1981-88 and 1990-91; while tight ends coach Mike DeBord was an assistant with the Seahawks in 2008-09.
The last word: “We’ll continue to evaluate Jay Cutler. Hopefully Jay will be able to go this week. He hasn’t had any setbacks. He’s doing better. On Wednesday we’ll be able to tell you a little bit more.” – coach Lovie Smith