How the Seahawks will beat the odds and the Bears

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks enter Monday night’s game versus the Bears as underdogs for several reasons. Here’s how they’ll beat the expectations, and Chicago.

The oddsmakers say the Seahawks will lose to the Bears Monday night. There are several very good reasons for those odds. Russell Wilson was sacked six times by the Broncos in week one, in large part because of the always destructive Von Miller. Things won’t get easier with Khalil Mack lined up opposite the right side of the Seattle offensive line. Despite that, and all the other issues, the Seahawks will prevail Monday night. Here’s the blueprint.

The best way to neutralize a pass rush is simple; don’t pass. I’m not suggesting Seattle run the ball 50 times – although that would be kind of fun. But as we and everyone else on the planet have said, the Seahawks have to run the ball more than 16 times to win. Less pass attempts equals less sack opportunities.

Pete Carroll wants to run the ball at least 500 times. The team is on pace for half that many carries. I don’t care if you’re facing a lot of second and long, third and long situations, Schotty. Run the damn ball with Chris Carson. Maybe you won’t face so many long yardage situations then.

Seattle attempted a pass on 14 of their first down plays versus Denver, not including the final drive with a minute left. They ran the ball 10 times. That’s not a terrible balance. The big problem is they only ran the ball four times on second down, and one of those was with Wilson. They have to run the ball against the Bears twice as much, and I expect they will. That’s the first key.

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Seahawks will dominate in special teams

Second, they have to dominate on special teams. The Bears have a pretty effective weapon in change of pace back and punt returner Tarik Cohen. He’ll be taken out of the game by Seattle’s own special teams weapon, punter Michael Dickson. Dickson’s net average punt yardage is 57.5 yards. That’s net, after the return.

Don’t think it was just because of the thin air at Mile High, either. Denver also punted six times, and had a net average of 42.7 yards. Maybe Dickson won’t hit three punts for over 60 yards in Chicago, but he’ll definitely put them deep in their own territory. Don’t forget the Seahawks have a pretty darn good return specialist of their own in Tyler Lockett. Together, they’ll give Seattle a big advantage.

As for the kicking game, Sebastian Janikowski needs to get back on track. He missed two tries at a field goal in Denver. That’s never a good thing, especially not when you eventually lose by three points. I’ll give Seabass a pass for now, and still give the edge to Seattle overall.

The new look defense will come through

Those other issues behind the bad odds for the Seahawks? Injuries. Bobby Wagner is out, along with K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin. Losing Wagner and Wright for the game puts a ton of pressure on the two backup linebackers, Austin Calitro and Shaquem Griffin. Both got plenty of snaps last week in Denver, and are likely to see even more action in Chicago.

They’ll have to play better this week, no doubt. Supported by new arrival Mychal Kendricks, I think they’ll do just that. Kendricks may have only had a few days with the Seahawks, but he’s been one of the league’s top ten linebackers in the past. You can be sure that Wagner and Wright have been putting in extra time with their respective backups to get them ready for Monday night.

The Seahawks safety duo, Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald, were outstanding against the Broncos. I see no reason for their performance to fall off against Mitch Trubisky and crew. Trubisky played a conservative game against the Packers, and didn’t turn the ball over. Seattle will change that stat, taking advantage of the second-year player’s relative inexperience.

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So let’s sum up the three keys to the win. First, run the ball to take some of the pressure off Wilson. This will control the clock and give the defense a bit more rest. Second, control field position with Dickson’s thunderous kicks. Third, keep Trubisky off-balance and minimize mistakes. Add it all up, and I get an upset Seahawks win, 27 – 20 over Da Bears.