With the NFL’s 11th-ranked offense and second-ranked defense, the Bears have outscored their opponents by 102 points this season, fourth-best point differential in the NFL.
GAME: Seattle Seahawks (6-5, 2nd, NFC West) at Chicago Bears (8-3, 1st NFC North). TYPE: Regular season. WEEK: 13. WHEN: Sunday, 10 a.m., PT, Soldier Field, Chicago. MEETING: 14th (Seahawks lead 9-4). STREAKS: Seahawks L 1; Bears W 1. HEAD COACHES: Pete Carroll, Seattle; Lovie Smith, Chicago. LINE: Bears by 3½. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
The Seahawks, undefeated at home (5-0), have dropped five of six on the road this season and are 6-16 away from CenturyLink Field under head coach Pete Carroll. But two of those six victories have come in each of the last two seasons at Soldier Field, where Seattle faces the NFC North’s first-place Chicago Sunday.
“We do know the setting,” Carroll said this week. “We’ve found some success there. We’ll try to bank on that the best we can.”
The task will be made somewhat easier because, for one week, anyway, they will have starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. They face four-game suspensions for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The two are appealing their suspensions. The process could last through the season.
The Seahawks draw a banged-up Bears club. Right guard Lance Louis is out with a season-ending knee injury and left guard Chris Spencer, a former No. 1 pick by Seahawks (2005), is out with a knee injury. While star returner Devin Hester will miss the game with a concussion, it’s uncertain whether an ankle injury will sideline running back Matt Forte. Star cornerback Charles Tillman, however, should be able to play through a reported foot injury.
Even with the Bears saddled with those issues, the Seahawks have a lot of their own. CB Marcus Trufant is out with a hamstring injury, DE Red Bryant is a game-time decision because of a lingering sore foot, and WR Sidney Rice strained a calf in practice Friday. They will welcome CB Walter Thurmond, back for the first time after a broken leg.
Then there’s the road. Consider:
The main thing about the Bears is that they lead the NFL in take-aways with 33 and are tied with the New York Giants for the league lead in take-away/give-away differential at +13 (the Seahawks are +2).
“Those guys are on a real roll right now,” said Carroll. “So it’s a very difficult challenge for us. We’re not giving the football away. That’s a strength that needs to show up in a big way if we’re going to have a chance. (The Bears) just knock the football out of your hands. They have 20 interceptions and 13 fumbles that they have recovered.
“They have scored six times on defense, which is a fantastic stat. It’s such an impacting stat for winning and losing.”
Chicago’s principal ball hawk is cornerback Charles Tillman, who has 32 career interceptions and 36 forced fumbles.
“Charles Tillman is the best ever at getting the ball out,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “I think he has a knack for it. Every coach preaches getting after the football as a defender. He has a feel not only to make the play, but attack the ball.
“There are plenty of times where the guy with the ball is running at him and as he’s getting ready to wrap, you see his arms come in to punch the ball out as he’s wrapping him up. He gets his hand on the ball, and the ball comes out. He’s done it for years. I remember a play in Green Bay where a guy is running a slant route and right when he catches it, Tillman punches the ball right back out.
“That is what makes them go. It gets the energy going, it obviously gives their offense field position.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s too complicated in terms of what they do,” Wilson said of Chicago’s defense. “They play cover-2, they play cover 1, 3, but they’re very, very good at what they do. They don’t have too many things in the book, but what they do have, they’re great at. I think that is what makes them so good.”
Defensively, one of Seattle’s biggest challenges Sunday will be containing wide receiver Brandon Marshall, whom the Bears have targeted 124 times. Marshall has caught 80 passes for 1,017 yards. Seattle’s top two receivers, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, have combined for 67 catches and 914 yards.
“We have to do some things to deal with it,” said Carroll. “They can hit you even when you double-cover him. They still get it done. Jay Cutler has tremendous faith in Brandon, they have been together a long time, and they just have a great chemistry. We’re going to have to have a really good day to be able to neutralize that.”
SERIES: Dates to Dec. 5, 1976, when the Bears routed the Seahawks 34-7 at the Kingdome. Bob Avellini threw two touchdown passes to James Scott, and Walter Payton rushed for 183 yards. The Seahawks scored their only touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Jim Zorn to John McMakin. The Seahawks have won the past two, both in Chicago, including 38-14 last year.
LAST MEETING (Seahawks 38, Bears 14, Dec. 18, 2011): Marshawn Lynch ran for two touchdowns and Red Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown as the Seahawks won for the second straight time at Soldier Field. Chicago held a 14-7 lead at halftime, but the Seahawks outscored the Bears 31-0 in the second half. Brandon Browner returned an interception 42 yards for another Seattle touchdown.
Seahawks: 6-5, 2nd, NFC West; scored 219 points (19.9 per game), ranking 23rd; allowed 185 points (16.8 per game), 3rd; differential of +34 points ranks 11th. Bears: 8-3, 1st, NFC North; scored 227 points (15.9), ranked 11th; allowed 175 (15.9), 2nd; differential of +102 points ranks 4th.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (53-54-0 career, 20-23-0 Seattle) is in his third season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Russell Wilson at Arizona — 18 of 34 for 153 yards, 1 TD, one INT, 62.5 passer rating; vs. Dallas — 15 of 20, 151 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 112.7 rating; vs. Green Bay — 10 of 21 for 130 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 99.3 passer rating; at St. Louis — 17 of 25, 160 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 45.8 passer rating; at Carolina — 19 of 25, 221 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 82.2 passer rating; vs. New England, 16 of 27, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 133.7 passer rating; at San Francisco, 9 of 23, 122 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 38.7 passer rating; at Detroit, 25 of 35 for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 96.8 passer rating; vs. Minnesota, 16 of 24, 173 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 127.3 passer rating; vs. New York Jets, 12 of 19, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 131.0 passer rating; at Miami, 21 of 27, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 125.9 passer rating. Matt Flynn — DNP all games.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
TEAM OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||3484||26||Total Yards||3290||30|
|Yards / Game||316.7||26||Yards / Game||299.1||30|
|Rush Yards||1520||8||Rush Yards||1341||9|
|Rush / Game||138.2||8||Rush / Game||121.9||9|
|Pass Yards||1964||31||Pass Yards||1949||32|
|Pass / Game||178.5||31||Pass / Game||177.2||32|
|Points / Game||19.9||23||Points / Game||25.2||11|
TEAM DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||3403||T5||Total Yards||3377||3|
|Yards / Game||309.4||T5||Yards / Game||307.0||3|
|Rush / Allw.||1195||14||Rush / Allw.||1066||8|
|Rush / Game||1098.6||14||Rush / Game||96.9||8|
|Pass Allw.||2208||3||Pass Allw.||2311||7|
|Pass / Game||200.7||3||Pass / Game||210.1||7|
|Points Allw.||185||3||Points Allw.||175||2|
|Points / Game||16.8||3||Points / Game||15.9||2|
SEAHAWKS OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 90, Chancellor 68, Wright 68|
|Sacks||Clemons 8.0, Irvin 7.0, Mebane, 3.0|
|Quarterback Hits||Clemons 17, Irvin 13, Branch 5, Mebane 5|
|Interceptions||Sherman 4, Browner 3, Thomas 2|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 15, Thomas 7, Browner 6|
|Forced Fumbles||Browner 2, Sherman 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Mebane, Browner, Branch, Trufant 1|
BEARS NOTES: Chicago defeated Indianapolis (41-21), St. Louis (23-6), Dallas (34-18), Jacksonville (41-3), Detroit (13-7), Carolina (23-22), Tennessee (51-20) and Minnesota (28-10), and lost to Green Bay (23-10), Houston (13-6) and San Francisco (32-7) . . . Matt Forte leads in rushing with 683 yards and three TDs . . . Michael Bush has 366 yards and five TDs . . . Brandon Marshall has already surpassed 1,000 yards receiving (1,017) and has scored eight touchdowns . . . Devin Hester has returned 18 kickoffs for 459 yards, but is doubtful for Sunay’s game . . . Henry Melton leads the Bears with 6.0 sacks and Israel Idonje has 5.0.
BEARS QUARTERBACKS: Jay Cutler has completed 174 of 286 passes for 2,000 yards, 13 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 81.1. Cutler had a season-high 333 passing yards Sept. 9 vs. Indianapolis. He threw three touchdown passes Nov. 4 vs. Tennessee. Cutler is coming off a 188-yard, 1 TD performance against Minnesota.
BEARS HEAD COACH: Lovie Smith is in his ninth season as head coach and has compiled a career mark of 79-60. He has taken the Bears to the playoffs four times. Smith began his NFL coaching career with Tampa Bay (1996-00) and has also coached with St. Louis (2001-03). On the college level, he coached for Tulsa (1983-86), Wisconsin (1987), Arizona State (1989-91), Kentucky (1992), Tennessee (1993-94) and Ohio State (1995).
KEY DATES: Jan. 5-6, 2013 — Wild Card weekend; Jan. 12-13 — Divisional playoffs; Jan. 19-20 — Conference championships; Jan. 27 — Pro Bowl (Honolulu); Feb. 3 — Super Bowl, New Orleans. Feb. 20-26 — NFL combine (Indianapolis); April 25-27 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|S. Francisco||8-2-1||2-0-1||Sunday at St. Louis|
|Seattle||6-5||0-3||Sunday at Chicago|
|St. Louis||4-6-1||3-0-1||Sunday vs. SF|
|Arizona||4-7||1-3||Sunday at N.Y. Jets|
COMING UP: The Seahawks return to CenturyLink Field Dec. 9 to host the Arizona Cardinals.
2012 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/11/12||vs. Tennessee||7 p.m.||Q13||W||27-17||1-0|
|8/18/12||at Denver||6 p.m.||Q13||W||30-10||2-0|
|8/24/12||at Kansas City||5 p.m.||Q13||W||44-14||3-0|
|8/30/12||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Q13||W||21-3||4-0|
2012 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/9/12||at Arizona||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||20-16||0-1|
|9/16/12||vs. Dallas||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-7||1-1|
|9/24/12||vs. Green Bay||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-12||2-1|
|9/30/12||at St. Louis||10 a.m.||FOX||L||19-13||2-2|
|10/7/12||at Carolina||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||16-12||3-2|
|10/14/12||vs. N. England||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||24-23||4-2|
|10/18/12||at S. Francisco||5:20 p.m.||NFLN||L||13-6||4-3|
|10/28/12||at Detroit||10 a.m.||FOX||L||28-24||4-4|
|11/4/12||vs. Minnesota||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||30-20||5-4|
|11/11/11||vs. NY Jets||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||28-7||6-4|
|11/25/12||at Miami||10 a.m.||FOX||L||24-21||6-5|
|12/2/12||at Chicago||10 a.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/9/12||vs. Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/16/12||*at Buffalo||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/23/12||vs. San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/30/12||vs. St. Louis||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
* in Toronto
2012 Seahawks Capsules
Aug. 11 Seahawks 27, Titans 17 (at Seattle) — Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for a touchdown and passed for one, leading the Seahawks over a Tennessee Titans team featuring two quarterbacks with strong local ties, ex-Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck and ex-Husky Jake Locker. Hasselbeck threw two interceptions while Locker completed 7 of 13 for 80 yards.
Aug. 18: Seahawks 30, Broncos 10 (at Denver) — Starting his second straight exhibition game, QB Matt Flynn failed to seize control of the quarterback job, finishing 6 of 13 for 31 yards with no TDs or INTs. But Wilson made a case for himself by completing 10 of 17 for 155 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 28.5. The Seahawks finished with 228 yards rushing, led by Sutton’s 48 yards on three carries.
Aug. 24: Seahawks 44, Chiefs 14 (at Kansas City) — Wilson completed 10 of 17 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. With Wilson playing into the second half, Seattle scored 21 points, overcoming a 10-9 halftime deficit. Earl Thomas made the big defensive play, returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Flynn did not play due to injury.
Aug. 30: Seahawks 21, Raiders 3 (at Seattle): Flynn, getting most of the snaps, completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards. Seahawks outgained the Raiders 334 yards to 101.
Sept. 8: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16 (at Phoenix): Despite seven tries inside Arizona’s red zone in final minute, the Seahawks could not score the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks overcame a tepid first half offensively thanks to an 83-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return by Leon Washington.
Sept. 15: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7 (at Seattle): The Seahawks took a 10-0 lead in less than five minutes when Michael Robinson forced Felix Jones to fumble the opening kickoff, leading to a short field goal, and Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones’ punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and the defense allowed the Cowboys only 34 yards and three first downs in the second half.
Sept. 24: Seahawks 14, Packers 12 (at Seattle): Russell Wilson and Golden Tate hooked up on a wildly controversial 24-yard touchdown pass as the clock ran out, giving the Seahawks a dramatic victory. As Wilson’s pass reached the end zone, Tate committed a pushing penalty that wasn’t called. Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball and Tate tried to wrestle it away. One official ruled no touchdown, another signaled TD. After review, Tate was awarded the touchdown. The Seahawks had eight sacks in the first half, a record-tying four by Chris Clemons.
Sept. 30: Rams 19, Seahawks 13 (at St. Louis): Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein booted four field goals, including a club-record 58-yarder which he later topped with a 60-yarder, as the Rams handed Seattle its second NFC West loss. Zuerlein also was a perfect decoy on the biggest play of the day — a fake field goal that turned into a two-yard touchdown pass from punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola. The score put the Rams (2-2) ahead 10-7 late in the first half. Marshawn Lynch ran for 118 yards and a touchdown,Seahawks, but Russell Wilson threw three interceptions.
Oct. 7: Seahawks 16, Panthers 12: (at Charlotte): The Seahawks used a series of big defensive plays, the best pass of Russell Wilson’s NFL career, and a planned safety in the final minute to edge Carolina. Cornerback Brandon Browner made two of the three biggest defensive stops. With Carolina at the Seattle 27-yard line in the third quarter, Browner stripped the ball from DeAngelo Williams, giving the Seahawks a chance to take the lead after they had fallen behind 10-6 on Wilson’s worst pass of the season. Less than three minutes into the second half, Wilson threw behind intended receiver Anthony McCoy, and Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn snatched the ball and raced 33 yards for a touchdown that put the Panthers ahead 10-6. But after Browner stripped Williams. Wilson, on a third-and-eight from the Carolina 13, rocketed a slant pass to Golden Tate for a touchdown.
Oct. 14: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23: Russell Wilson threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:18 to play to give the Seahawks a come-from-behind victory. The Seahawks trailed 23-10 in the second half, but Wilson fired touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edwards before finding Rice with the game-winning throw.
Oct. 18: 49ers 13, Seahawks 6: Alex Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker late in the third quarter and San Francisco held off the Seahawks in a battle for first place in the NFC West. Frank Gore ran for 131 yards. The 49ers made just enough plays to win a defense-first game. Marshawn Lynch ran for 103 yards for Seattle, but Russell Wilson couldn’t generate a passing game, going 9 of 23 for 122 yards and a passer rating of 38.7.
Oct. 28: Lions 28, Seahawks 24: Titus Young caught his second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford on a one-yard slant with 20 seconds left, lifting Detroit. Young needed to make the second TD catch after Zach Miller had a spectacular, 16-yard snag on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left that put the Seahawks ahead. But Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions (3-4) on their last possession.
Nov. 4: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20: Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Seahawks overcame 182 yards by Adrian Peterson to snap a two-game losing streak. Peterson tore through the Seahawks defense for one of the finest games of his career, yet was stuck being a spectator as Seattle slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter, mostly on the legs of Lynch, with a few key passes by Wilson.
Nov. 11: Seahawks 28, N.J. Jets 7: Wilson threw two touchdowns to Sidney Rice, and Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks overwhelmed the Jets at CenturyLink Field. Rice also threw the first pass of his NFL career, completing a 23-yard touchdown to Golden Tate.
Nov. 25: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21: Dan Carpenter hit a 43-yard field goal at the final gun after Ryan Tannehill led a 65-yard, six-play drive, and the Dolphins rallied to beat the Seahawks at SunLife Stadium. Miami scored 17 points in the final 8:08 after the Seahawks took the lead on a 98-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington. The eighth KOR TD of Washington’s career tied the league record. Russell Wilson completed 21 of 27, including 16 in a row, for 224 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 125.9.