Overrated Against Underachieving
Chicago vs. Seattle
Sunday, Jan. 14
Seattle Seahawks (10-7) at Chicago Bears (13-3), 1 p.m.
Fortunately for Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears, they won't be facing a team like last year's Carolina Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. Fortunately for Mike Holmgren's Seattle Seahawks, they keep finding ways to win in spite of themselves.
Truth be told, and quite honestly, Seattle was dealt a hard hand, starting with the ripoffs in Super Bowl XL. The Seahawks found themselves in an early hole when Shawn Alexander broke his foot three weeks into the season, but outside of a 201-yard game against Green Bay in his second week back, Alexander has little resembled last year's Most Valuable Player -- blame the Madden Curse (on Wikipedia. See also Madden Curse on Snopes.com).
Things got worse when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was injured three weeks later and missed a month -- blame the Chunky Soup Curse (a curse far more cruel and devastating). Hasselbeck has been an inconsistent shell of the player he was last year and previous to his sprained knee. In the six games since both Alexander and Hasselbeck returned, Seattle is 3-3, 4-3 including last week's Wild Card "victory" over the Dallas Keystone Kowboys.
But that game was far from stellar. Alexander had just 69 rushing yards, and Hasselbeck was 18 of 38 for 240 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (66.9 rating). And, really, Dallas outplayed Seattle, but for the final 7 minutes.
And then there's Chicago. Ah, but for the grace of Rex Grossman and the easiest schedule in the league (.430 strength of schedule and a pathetic .404 strength of victory) go thee. Want to know why Chicago won the NFC North? Because two other teams in their division had quarterbacks with worse ratings than Grossman's. The other team had nothing other than its quarterback.
The Bears subsist on their defense, and their defense on turnovers: 44 takeaways, best in the league (Baltimore 40). Grossman's 20 interceptions makes their plus-8 turnover differential appear mortal. Seattle has a chance if Grossman is at his most dismal and Smith is too stupid to insert Brian Griese, who is no great shakes either. (A quick breakdown of Grossman's interceptions: 6 vs. AFC East (Patriots, Dolphins, 3 each), 9 vs. division opponents in (Vikings, Packers, 3 each in December, 3 combined in September), 4 vs. Arizona, only other one vs. Giants.)
The Bears beat Seattle in the Seahawks first game without Alexander, 37-6. Grossman threw a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions and had a rating of 100.5
It would be a miracle if Seattle won. But you'd have to be the Saints to receive divine intervention.
Prediction: Bears, 34-13.
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Who will win Seattle @ Chicago?
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