Jim Moore Predicts: With some changes to game plan, Seahawks can beat Bears
Last week I thought altitude and hot weather would catch up to the Seahawks and factor into a double-digit defeat at Denver. I was wrong. The Seahawks hung in there and lost 27-24.
This week they’re playing a Monday night game at Chicago, and I’m looking at another factor that has more to do with history than current events. It’s probably misguided to place too much on what’s happened in the past since teams are different with so many new players. But it’s worth noting that the Seahawks are 22-4-1 in prime-time games and 11-1 in Monday night games in particular under Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks coach is asked about his prime-time record all the time, and as I recall, he always says something along the lines of “I don’t know why we’ve had that much success in night games.” It certainly has something to do with having superior players through most of his time here, but there’s more to it than that. I’m not here to understand why it’s happened exactly, I’m just trying to steer you in the right direction when it comes to predicting the game.
I have a friend who says that a trend is your friend. I also know this – it’s not very smart to go against a trend. Picture this – you watched last Sunday night’s game between the Bears and the Packers. For the most part, aside from the fourth-quarter collapse, you were impressed with the Bears. And you feel like if Khalil Mack can be a pass-rushing monster against Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, he’ll certainly create all kinds of havoc against Germain Ifedi.
So you look at the line and see that Chicago is favored by 3 over the Seahawks. The Bears are playing their home opener and should be fired up. They have a new coach and a new play-maker on defense. And all you have to do is give three points.
But how are you going to feel after the game ends with the Seahawks winning 20-17? Some wise guy – probably me – will ask you why you would predict the Bears when the Seahawks have such a terrific record under Carroll on Monday Night Football. Did you miss the post I wrote last week (this one) in which I mentioned the trend-friend thing? Apparently so. Hang your head in shame.
I know the Seahawks are flawed and banged-up already. They’re probably going with two third-string rookies as defensive starters at Chicago – Tre Flowers at right cornerback and Austin Calitro at weak-side linebacker. You could argue that Flowers is actually a full-time starter, but before the cuts were made a week and a half ago, Byron Maxwell was projected as the starter and Dontae Johnson was his backup. Because of injuries, Flowers is the guy now, and I’m glad he is – I’m a big believer in getting growing pains out of the rookies this year during a season in which the Seahawks aren’t good enough to win the Super Bowl anyway.
And Calitro looks like he’s going to replace Shaquem Griffin, who replaced K.J. Wright last week at Denver. Griffin struggled in his first start, prompting the call for Calitro in the second half.
Since I like the Seahawks plus-3, I’m hoping they’ll compensate for their defensive drawbacks, which also include a tepid pass rush, by blitzing more frequently than they did at Denver. Mitch Trubisky is a second-year quarterback who’s liable to be flustered with pressure coming from different directions from different positions, like Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker and Justin Coleman at nickelback.
Yes, I get it, they can get burned by gambling with blitzes, but I’d rather take my chances with an assortment of blitzes and four-man rushes and see what happens. Plus I would think it would catch the Bears off-guard since a majority of the Seahawks’ film study shows them not blitzing much at all.
Offensively the Seahawks will be challenged by not having Doug Baldwin, but I think they can compensate with Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and David Moore. Call it receptions by committee. Plus they should get plenty of help with receptions out of the backfield from Chris Carson and hopefully C.J. Prosise.
And another thing, I’m probably oversimplifying it, but if the Seahawks say they’re going to run the ball more than they did against Denver, it makes sense to me since it will limit Mack’s pass game-wrecking opportunities. Then again, they said they were going to run the ball a lot against the Broncos and only ran it 14 times. I want to see them run the ball, run the ball and run it some more this week. Move the chains and keep your suspect defense off the field.
Carson is going to have his first of many 100-yard games this week, and the Seahawks will cover the spread and win the game outright. Seahawks 20, Bears 17…no, I don’t think Sebastian Janikowski will kick two extra points and two field goals, I’m predicting 20 points for the Seahawks because I think he’ll miss one of his three extra points.
Huskies (-6 1/2) at Utah
Bad news for Dawg fans who think I stink at picking games – I love your team this week. If they truly are a Final Four team, they should beat the Utes by more than a touchdown in Salt Lake City. But if they lose, prepare for another week of Dawg fans whining about Jake Browning. I swear, if that kid goes 24 for 25, everyone will wonder what happened on that one incompletion. Quit ripping Jake Browning! Fergawdsake, he’s not the best quarterback you’ve ever had but he’s certainly not the worst either. Dawgs 27, Utes 10.
Eastern Washington (+18 1/2) at WSU
The last time these two teams met in Pullman, Cooper Kupp had a big day and so did the Eagles, pulling the upset. For justifiable reasons, Eastern worries me. The Cougs should have more talent, but the Eagles will be more motivated. Expect a close one at Martin Stadium. Cougs 34, Eagles 31.