The Chicago Bears got back on track in Week 12 with a 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, which ended a two-game losing streak and gave them a one-game lead over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North with an 8-3 record. Week 13 brings another home game against another NFC Playoff contender in the Seattle Seahawks, who are 6-5 and in second place in the NFC West after losing to the Miami Dolphins last week.
Despite the decisive victory over the Vikings, the Bears emerged from last week with a lot of key injuries. Running back Matt Forte and linebacker Lance Briggs are both dealing with ankle injuries and cornerback Charles Tillman left last week’s game with a foot issue. Wide receiver Devin Hester (concussion) has been ruled out for Sunday’s game and guard Lance Louis (knee) was placed on injured reserve this week, which further thins Chicago’s offensive line. The status of Forte, Briggs and Tillman should be clearer as Sunday nears, but all three are tentatively expected to suit up.
The return of quarterback Jay Cutler last week made a big difference in masking the ineptitude of the Bears’ offensive line as the Vikings only sacked him once. A big challenge will come this week as the Seahawks rank in the top 10 of the league in scoring defense (third-16.8 points per game), pass defense (third-200.7 yards per game) and total defense (fifth-309.4 yards per game). They are also in the top 10 of the league in sacks (tied for ninth-29) so far this season, led by eight sacks from defensive end Chris Clemons.
Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing suspensions for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, but at this point they are both expected to play Sunday as they move forward with the appeal process. The Bears’ passing game clearly goes through wide receiver Brandon Marshall, but the emergence of another option will be essential for Chicago’s offense to keep the chains moving during Sunday’s game. Wide receiver Earl Bennett showed some signs of being that second option with four catches for 45 yards last week.
Chicago of course has a terrific defense themselves, ranking in the top 10 of the league in terms of yardage (third) and points allowed (second) along with 30 sacks (10th in the league) and a league-high 33 takeaways. A great challenge will come on Sunday against Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who enters the week as the NFL‘s third-leading rusher (1,051 yards) despite having his second-lowest rushing output of the season against Miami last week (46 yards).
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has seven touchdown passes without an interception over his last three games and is also a threat with his legs (227 rushing yards this season). Keeping Lynch in check and forcing Wilson and a fairly nondescript group of wide receivers to beat them through the air will be a big key for the Bears defense on Sunday, and that situation could lead to a one-sided result if an avalanche of turnovers follows.
Prediction-Bears 24, Seahawks 13