When the 2015 season began, many fans probably didn’t circle a week three matchup between the (0-2) Seattle Seahawks and (0-2) Chicago Bears as a must-win game for both teams (4.25pm ET, Sunday).
Most people didn’t expect the Seahawks to be winless after two games and not looking like the team that went to back-to-back Super Bowl championships.
Seattle’s woes can largely be tied in with their top notch, ‘Legion of Boom’ defense missing two elements. Byron Maxwell left in free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles, while Kam Chancellor (pictured), perhaps the most important member of the secondary, was in the midst of a holdout. Missing those two players, Seattle found themselves ranking 16th in total defense and an even worse 20th in passing defense.
The Seahawks allowed Nick Foles, the 20th ranked QB in the NFL in terms of passing yards, to burn them for 297 yards and a touchdown in week one and Aaron Rodgers, the 21st, to throw for 249 and two touchdowns. What is most notable about those stats is that Seattle doesn’t have a single interception. The team does have five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. None of these have come from the secondary however.
With Chancellor returned, the Seahawks have their best weapon back and that will likely impact on my betting picks for this preview. On top of that, Seattle takes on a Chicago offense that is without quarterback Jay Cutler and top wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. If ever there was a game for this defense to break out, it would be this week.
The Bears, much like the Dallas Cowboys who are without the services of QB Tony Romo and top wide receiver Dez Bryant for at least seven weeks, are riddled with injuries. Losing Cutler was a big blow because even though he isn’t the best signal caller in the league, he is better than his back-up, Jimmy Clausen.
The 28-year-old Clausen now in his sixth year in the league has only started one game in the past two seasons. He performed okay, throwing for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the Bears loss to the Detroit Lions. In Clausen’s latest appearance, filling in for the injured Cutler midway through a game against the Arizona Cardinals, his performance was along those lines. He threw for just 121 yards with no touchdown and one interception.
According to Bears personnel, Clausen’s numbers are indicative of the improvements he has made. During preseason and training camp, these did show a bit as Clausen seemed more comfortable under center and was able to develop a better rhythm with his receivers. But that didn’t show on Sunday and if the Bears hope to beat the fully healthy Seattle defense, they will need more from their quarterback.
Quick Hits Seattle – Jimmy Graham’s Role in the Offense
In the offseason, the Seahawks traded with the New Orleans Saints for the services of tight end Jimmy Graham. Those who have followed the NFL over the past few years know that Graham is one of the best at his position in the league, second only to New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski.
Thus far, Graham has been underutilized by Seattle as he has only seven receptions for 62 yards and a score, with all but one of these catches coming in the first week. Graham is being used in blocking packages for Marshawn Lynch and as a red zone threat. It is true however that Seattle is looking to get Graham more involved in the offense and against a Bears team that ranked the worst in the NFL last year in terms of yards given up to tight ends, this could be the week that happens. Look for Wilson and his tight end to connect in a big way on Sunday.
Quick Hits Chicago – Can Matt Forte Carry the Bears?
Last season, RB Matt Forte was one of the most involved players in his team’s offense. Forte saw more snaps and recorded more all-purpose yards than anyone at his position. So far this trend has continued as Forte has already caught nine passes on 13 targets for 69 yards and 39 carries for 202 yards. The 29-year-old Forte averages 5.2 yards a carry, which would be best of his career and fourth highest among running backs.
Without Cutler, look for Forte’s role in the offense to expand even more. Chicago will look to him and tight end Martellus Bennett to really help Clausen in the passing game. They’ll also look to rely more on the running game to lessen the burden on the back-up quarterback. Moral of the story, containing Forte should be Seattle’s number one priority.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bears vs Seattle Seahawks Betting Picks
The toughest part about this preview when considering the betting picks is the sportsbooks’ spread: It is around 14.5pts points in favor of the Seahawks. The NFL hasn’t seen a spread that large in years. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, who take on the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, have a smaller margin associated with their game.
There’s really no reason to believe the Bears will put up a fight. They are without their top guys and, we didn’t even talk about the fact that this is Seattle’s home opener. The loudest stadium in the league and a place that has been incredibly hostile to even the best road teams over the past few years. Seattle enters this game with an 18-3 record including postseason, dating back to 2013 in home games.
Needless to say, Seattle is my pick to win. I would also advise taking the Seahawks to best that spread. Ordinarily I hate betting on a double digit mark, especially a two touchdown deficit, but the Bears are listless. If ever there was a blowout waiting to happen, it would be this game.
- Bet on Seattle Seahawks -14.5pts @ odds of +100 (evens) with 5Dimes Sportsbook, who currently offers the best value betting line. BetOnline goes -105 for the same spread, while Bovada is -15pts @ -110.
- I’d also advise betting the over on 43.5 total points for the game @ -110 and that is the same betting line with BetOnline, 5Dimes and Bovada.