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Divisional Playoff Game

Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears

Betting Line: Bears -10 o/u 41

By

John J. Raspanti


1/16/11

The ultimate underdog Seahawks take on the NFC North division champion Bears in the second round of the NFC divisional playoffs. Seattle stunned the Super Bowl Champion Saints by the score of 41-36 last weekend. The Seahawks fell behind 10-0 but quickly rallied behind the passing of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and some terrible tackling by the New Orleans defense.

 In what was easily his best game of the season, Hasselbeck threw for four touchdowns and ended up completing 22 of 35 passes for a passing rating of over a 100. For the season, his passer rating was 73.2. Running back Marshaw Lynch also had a monster game against the Saints, scoring on an amazing 67-yard run and ending the game with 131 yards. Lynch gained only 737 yards during the season, averaging 3.7 yards a carry. Thirty four year old Brandon Stokley caught a 45-yard pass for a touchdown against the Saints, his first touchdown reception of the year. Do we see a pattern forming here?

The Seahawk defense, led by linebacker's David Hawthorn and Lofa Tatupa, played well in spurts but still allowed quite a bit of yards. Tatupa sustained a concusion during the Saints game. Coach Pete Carroll is hopeful the star linebacker will be back at practice Friday morning. Wide receiver Ben Obomanv's knee is still a problem, his status is questionable.

The Bears have also been underdogs most of the year and have used this perception to motivate. Picked to finish no higher then third in the NFC North division (behind the Packers and Vikings) they found their groove in week seven and won seven of their last nine games. Their lost to the Seahawks might have been the key. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz put aside his pass happy ways and designed a more balanced game plan. The result was some outstanding running by Matt Forte (he finished the season with 1069 yards) and a more disciplined quarterback in Jay Cutler. The former Bronco put up some All-Pro numbers and ended the season with 23 touchdown passes. The improved play of the offensive line was the key though. Opening holes for Forte, or giving Cutler a few extra seconds, the changes made by Coach Mike Tice paid dividends.  

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The question is can the line hold-up in the playoffs. Cutler was sacked six times in the Bears 23-20 loss to the Seahawks in October. The Bears are a better team now, and at least lately, so is Seattle. Wide receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett should find some holes in the Seahawk secondary. Linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs lead the Bear defense. Briggs who didn't play in the October game, is extra fired up. Cornerback Charles Tillman is also motivated to play better against Seattle wide receiver Mike Williams, who caught 10 passes for 123 yards in the first meeting between the teams.

So, either the Cinderella story continues and the Seahawks knock off the Bears, or, the better team, the team that deserves to be in the playoffs, the team that earned the right to be playing this game at home, wins and the NFL playoffs get back to reality. That's the scenario we are going with. Yeah, the Cardinals did it a few years ago, but that was a talented team. This Seahawks team is just not that good.

Everything worked out for Seattle last week. The Saints were no where near as good as a year ago. We thought they were vulnerable. The Seahawks caught a break getting that game at home. Players who hadn't done anything all year stepped up and made plays. Rarely does that happen two weeks in a row unless it's been happening all year long, which it hasn't.

The Seahawks numbers are simply horrendous. Worse than several teams that didn't make the playoffs. They were outscored on the road this year by an average of 29-17. Their yards per point number offensively is 19 on the road and their defensive number is 13. Which simply means, they can't score and they can't stop anyone.

The Bears numbers are not as good as the other remaining playoff teams. But they are still playoff caliber numbers. There's a general rule we try to follow in all sports from a betting perspective. Never ask a bad team to win for you. Or, to hang within a number for you. Seattle is a bad team.

This is not a Key Release, but our opinion here is that the Bears are the only way to look here. Bears -10

 

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