Game Preview

Monday Night Football Preview: Seahawks at Bears


Monday Night Football Preview

The NFL season is back in all its dramatic glory, and it was some start to the season. This time around sees 2 teams eager to make up for heartbreaking losses on Monday Night Football when the Seahawks fly into Soldier Field to take on the revamped Chicago Bears. It’s the 18th time these franchises have met (playoffs included), with the Seahawks holding an 11-6 advantage.

Seahawks at Bears

Bears -3 | Over / Under 43

Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

The Seahawks, like the Bears, were right in their season opener towards the dying moments and probably should have got the job done. They fell behind early in the 4th quarter and only managed 3 yards and an interception over the final 11+ minutes while trying to steal the lead one last time. Seattle eventually lost by just 3 points. Afterward, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s frustrating. Third downs we were lousy and we didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted and we got sacked a bunch of times. It was not a very clean game for us.”

Why They Will Win

It has to be Russell Wilson. There isn’t a lot else that the Seahawks have going for them these days. Seattle had 306 offensive yards in week 1 and the quarterback personally accounted for 247 of them (298 passing, 5 rushing, 56 lost from sacks). It’s a worrying trend that has unfortunately carried over from last season too. In 2017, Wilson led the NFL with 34 passing touchdowns and led the Seahawks in rushing with 586 yards and 3 TD’s. He did it all because quite frankly, he had to. And if the Seahawks want to avoid a 0-2 start to 2018, on the road, Russell Wilson will have to channel his DangeRuss alter ego once again.

And Why They Won’t

Seattle’s weapons, or more accurately, the lack thereof. This is a side that barely resembles the one that triumphed in Super Bowl XLVIII. In fact, only 6 players from that championship team are still on the current roster. One of those (Byron Maxwell) has since spent time in Philly and Miami before being resigned this season and is now on IR. Another (Doug Baldwin) has a sprained MCL that will sideline him for a few weeks. So, an already shallow roster has been depleted further.

I just mentioned Wilson’s rushing numbers last year, however, he was simply the only running game the Seahawks had. All of the running backs on the 2017 roster combined to score just the 1 TD all year. Seattle tried to address this over the offseason by drafting Rashaad Penny with the 27th overall pick of the 2018 draft. He and Chris Carson split the carries in the season opener with 7 apiece, which looks like the way things will play out going forward. Still, Carroll pinpointed the run game as a failure a week ago and the rook had just 8 yards from his 7 carries. Carson was by far the best option but still had only 51 of Seattle’s 64 yards, plus a lost fumble. There are still a lot of questions in this offensive side that currently remain unanswered.

Chicago Bears (0-1)

The Chicago Bears just had a game stolen from them. They were just minutes from entering the 4th quarter with a 20 point lead against their fiercest rivals when Aaron Rodgers, on 1 leg, orchestrated a masterful comeback. The lowlight of the Bears night was a 75 yard Randall Cobb touchdown where he outran the entire Bears defense for the majority of the play.

“That’s a tough one for us,” head coach Matt Nagy said of the loss. “It stings. I want our guys to feel that. I want our coaches to feel it. We talked about finishing and we didn’t do that. But I’ll say this: I’m really proud of our team, I’m proud of our guys. They did a lot of good things tonight. We’re going to learn from it. It’s a long season.”

Why They Will Win

The Bears start as favorite’s for the first time in forever against Seattle this weekend. It comes down to the fact that on paper, Chicago appears to be the more talented squad. Mitch Trubisky is beginning to come into his own as the centerpiece of the offense. Newly acquired wide receiver Allen Robinson II is the most talented pass catcher the Bears have had since Alshon Jeffery. Jordan Howard is a high-quality running back. The defensive unit is now sporting bigger names than the former “Legion of Doom”.

But the most exciting piece on the Bears roster might just be 5’6”, 181 pounds, diminutive running back Tarik “The Human Joystick” Cohen. Last year, Cohen was deployed in every scenario. He had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards, 855 return yards, 4 total touchdowns, and a single 21-yard passing touchdown. He can literally do everything of the offensive side of the ball. The similarly sized Phillip Lindsay (5-8, 190-pound) came out of nowhere in week 1 to embarrass the Hawks with 102 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Look out for Cohen to contribute in a big way.

And Why They Won’t

Jordan HowardThe Bears need to remember that there are 4 quarters of football. They were extremely impressive in the first half but virtually disappeared after the main break. They led 17-0 at the half and only managed 2 field goals the rest of the way. Trubisky, Howard, Cohen, Robinson, the defense; all of these pieces had huge first halves but failed to return from the locker room the same threats. Matt Nagy, making his head coaching debut, showed his inexperience by not calling his main playmakers numbers enough in the second half. This is a young side with talent across the entire roster. The franchise is heading in the right direction, but they need to put in a full 4 quarter effort otherwise Russell Wilson will expose them just as Rodgers did.

Key Match-Up:

The Seattle offensive line vs the Chicago pass rush. In week 1, the Seahawks allowed their Quarterback to be hit 11 times, sacked 6 times, and be pressured into 2 picks, There were also three other tackles for a loss and 3 forced fumbles. Von Miller just by himself accounted for 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 of those forced fumbles and even recovered 1. It was a dominant display by a dominant defender.

And life doesn’t get any easier. When the offensive line looks across the line of scrimmage, they will be staring at the Bears new outside linebacker, the three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. Mack played ok in his Bears debut. He became the first player since 1982 to record a sack, an interception for a score, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. With Mack and Leonard Floyd, the man responsible to almost breaking Aaron Rodgers, bearing down on them (no pun intended), the Hawks will have their hands full trying to protect their franchise star.

 

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Prediction

Wilson has another big night but once again fails to get much help from those around him. He also gets terrorized by Mack, who finishes with 3 sacks. Meanwhile, Chicago looks like a cohesive unit in front of a raucous home crowd and Cohen finds the endzone twice.

Final: Chicago 27 -10

 


Betting Tips

As I’ve said a few times now, the 2 sides have reversed fortunes since a season ago which is reflected in Bears opening the game as 3 point favorites. Through the 2017 season, the Bears had an 8-7-1 record ATS despite only actually winning 5 games all year. The Seahawks, on the other hand, won 9 games but covered the line in just 6 matchups, posting a 6-9-1 ATS record. Making life harder for Seattle is that they are on the road for the 2nd week in a row. Since the 2014 season, teams who have opened their season with 2 straight road games have gone 2-13 in week 2. I like the Bears to cover here.

Total Points Over/Under

The O/U in this one sits at only 43 points. Both the games these teams were involved with in week 1 went over that. However, last year the Seahawks went under in 9 of their 16 games and the Bears scored even worse, going under in 12 games. It suggests to me that neither side can put too many points on the board. I’m taking the under.

BEST BET:

Bears -3 (-125), Total Points Under 43 (-110)

Prop Bet

I’ve grabbed a couple of player props that I like for Monday’s game:

  • Player to Score a Touchdown: Tarik Cohen (+230) – I’ve already pumped up his tires in this article, but I’m also taking some of the action for him to get in the endzone. Jordan Howard is the shortest price to get a score on Monday, and fair enough, but Tarik Cohen can do damage from anywhere. The Hawks gave up 0.81 rushing scores per game last year, and also gave up a solid 1.19 TD’s per game from the pass. They’ve lost a lot of key personnel from that side of the ball and started this season by allowing Phillip Lindsay to get to the promised land. For what it’s worth, Cohen is at +1500 to score 2 or more TD’s.
  • Player to Score First Touchdown: Trey Burton (+820) – Burton was a week 1 bust. He was targeted by Trubisky just 6 times against the Packers which was good for 2nd on the team, but he only caught 1 ball for 15 yards. The biggest missed opportunity for Burton came late in the game when he appeared to be very open in the endzone, but Trubisky never looked his way. But in a positive, Burton was on the field for 87% of Chicago’s snaps, and I expect Nagy to try to get him more involved. Getting him the first score would help that.

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