Good morning. It’s going to be a balmy 61 degrees here in Chicago at game time, so weather should not be a factor today, as the Seahawks catch a break in December.
I’ll be headed over to Soldier Field shortly. Here’s five keys for the Seattle Seahawks as they try to improve to 7-5 on the year.
Pressure Cutler: The Seahawks have done a good job of generating pressure in the team’s last, two appearances in the regular season at Soldier Field, with a total of 10 sacks. And Seattle’s front four is playing against a makeshift Chicago offensive line that has given up 35 sacks this season. Jay Cutler is a mobile, strong-armed quarterback, and if the Seahawks let him get comfortable in the pocket, he’ll make them pay with big plays down the field. Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Jason Jones and Brandon Mebane need to be on their “A” game today. The Seahawks have generated 12 of the team’s 29 sacks away from CenturyLink Field.
Protect the ball: The Bears are one of the best teams in the league at stripping the ball and creating turnovers, so it’s critical that Seattle win the turnover battle in order to have a chance today. Seattle’s offense has not turned the ball over the last three games, so let’s see if the Seahawks can make it four. And defensively, the Seahawks need to create some big plays by turning Chicago over.
Feed the Beast: Marshawn Lynch has not rushed for 100 yards in his last three games against Chicago, but he’s churned out some tough yards and added balance to Seattle’s offense. Lynch needs to do the same thing today against one of the better run defenses in the league, helping the Seahawks control the tempo of the game, and keeping Chicago’s offense off the field.
Own the line of scrimmage: Last week at Miami, the Seahawks surprisingly got pushed around on both sides of the ball up front. That can’t happen today. This game is going to be a slug fest, so field position and ball control will be key, which starts up front. The Seahawks need to get a consistent push up front in the running game, and protect Russell Wilson. And defensively, the Seahawks need to get back to defending the run like they did earlier this season.
Contain Brandon Marshall: With 81 catches for 1,017 yards, Chicago’s Brandon Marshall has been dominant this season. Both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will get their opportunities to match up against the big receiver. Marshall is going to get his catches, but the Seahawks can let him own the passing game. Seattle’s cornerback tandem has to limit Marshall’s touches and make someone else make consistent plays in the passing game.
Here’s my advance for today. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll hopes being familiar with the surroundings at Soldier Field will help solve his team’s issues on the road. “We have found some success,” Carroll said. “We know how to travel there, and we know what it takes. And we’ll try to bank on that the best we can and make the most of it.”
Dave Boling of The News Tribune writes that the Seahawks have to turn up the heat on Cutler to win today.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com previews the game here.
Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times lists stopping Chicago’s running game as one of the keys for the Seahawks against the Bears.
John Mullen of CSN Chicago previews the game from the Bears perspective here.
Dan Pompei of the National Football Post takes a closer look at the prospects of eliminating all low blocks. Interesting, if you can’t hit someone low and you can’t hit someone high, sounds like we’re moving closer to not hitting someone at all. Pompei argues against eliminating all low blocks, but doing away with the chop block.
Check out the latest Real Robinson Report in the video below. I make a guest appearance at the end, although I’m labeled Mack Strong, which obviously does a disservice to Mack. Pretty funny. Mike Rob thinks I jinxed him because I brought up the fact that he was 100 percent converting third and 1 situations, then the following week he was stuffed for no gain.