When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Soldier Field, Chicago
Record: 8-3 and first in the NFC Central after Sunday’s 28-10 victory over the Vikings
Where they rank: No. 30 on offense (10th rushing, 32nd passing); No. 3 on defense (8th rushing, 6th passing)
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jaime Maggio
Series: Seahawks lead 9-4 in regular-season games, including wins the past two seasons in Chicago – 38-14 last year and 23-20 in 2010
Star power: Brandon Marshall. The Bears have a galaxy to gaze at – linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs; defensive end Julius Peppers; cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings; returner Devin Hester; running back Matt Forte; even quarterback Jay Cutler. They have 27 Pro Bowl berths between them. But Marshall, in his first season with the Bears, ranks third in the NFL in receptions (81) and fifth in receiving yards (1,017); is tied for second in touchdown receptions (eight); and leads the league in third-down receptions (27). All of this on an offense that ranks last in the league in passing. Marshall, the ex-Bronco and former Dolphin, had 12 catches for 92 yards against the Vikings on Sunday, which put him over 1,000 receiving yards for the sixth consecutive season. Marshall is the first Bears receiver to top 1,000 yards since Marty Booker in 2002 and the ninth in franchise history to do it. “I definitely take pride in it,” Marshall told reporters after the game. “There is a great quote out there that says: ‘Don’t confuse activity with production.’ You have to be productive in anything you do in life. I’m really proud to be a Bear and when I look back on my legacy as a football player, I want it to be as a Bear.”
Unsung hero: Jennings. Again, when looking at the Bears’ No. 3-ranked defense, there’s Urlacher. And Briggs. And Peppers. And Tillman. All have been to the Pro Bowl. Jennings has not. But that should change this season, because he leads the NFL with eight interceptions, including one he returned 25 yards for the touchdown. His eight picks are three more than the two players tied for second – the Giants’ Steve Brown and Packers’ Casey Hayward. This from a former sixth-round draft choice who had seven picks in his previous seven seasons. “On this defense, you’ve got a lot of Pro Bowl guys,” Jennings told reporters last month. “You have to lock in and play your best ball because you don’t want to let down the coaches or your teammates down. The pressure is always on.”
On the spot: The Bears’ ever-changing offensive line. Last week, former Seahawks’ first-round draft choice Chris Spencer stepped in at left guard for Chilo Rachal and Jonathan Scott at right tackle for Gabe Carimi. Then, during the game against the Vikings, right guard Lance Louis tore the ACL in his left knee and was replaced by Carimi. And, Spencer damaged meniscus in his left knee, so Edwin Williams finished the game at left guard. How will they line up against the Seahawks, who have 29 sacks? That’s one of those stay-tuned situations. But the unit that finished Sunday’s game was – from left tackle to right – J’Marcus Webb, Williams, Roberto Garza at center, Carimi and Scott.
Burning question: How bad are the Bears’ injuries? Louis is out of the remainder of the season and Spencer’s status is iffy. But Forte (ankle), Tillman (ankle) and Hester (concussion) also left Sunday’s game with injuries. Forte re-sprained his right ankle, which forced him to miss time earlier this season, but he is expect to play against the Seahawks. Tillman has a chipped bone in his right foot, but he also could play Sunday. Hester will have to be cleared to practice before a decision can be made on whether he’ll play this week. “We hope that they’re not serious injuries,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said on Monday. “If a guy doesn’t finish the game, there’s concern and there is some concern for some of the guys.”
Numbers to know: plus-13, the Bears’ turnover differential, which ties them for second in the league. … 33, turnovers forced, which leads the league. … 95, points scored by the Bears in the fourth quarter. … 175, points allowed by the Bears, which is the second fewest in the league behind the 49ers (155). … 8, return touchdowns by the Bears, including seven of their league-leading 20 interceptions. … 45-13, the combined score from their back-to-back losses to the Texans and 49ers before the Bears bounced back to beat the Vikings. … 35, sacks allowed by the Bears, third most in the league behind the Cardinals (46) and Packers (37).
Familiar faces: In addition to Spencer, who started 70 games for the Seahawks from 2005-10, four members of the Bears’ coaching staff spent time in Seattle. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice played tight end for the Seahawks from 1981-88 and in 1990-91; quarterback coach Jeremy Bates was their offensive coordinator in 2010; tight ends coach Mike DeBord was with the Seahawks in 2008-09; and defensive line coach Mike Phair was a scout and assistant coach from 2005-2010.
The last word: “Every team doesn’t have a guy like we have at our quarterback position. When plays break down, you’ve got a guy that can scramble around and make a play, a guy that can complete any throw you ask him to. And then just the confidence that comes with having your guy, your quarterback, no matter how it’s looking, the guys have confidence that with Jay leading us we can come back.” – Smith on having Cutler back against the Vikings after he missed the 32-7 loss to the 49ers the previous week because of a concussion