2010 NFC Divisional Playoff Preview: Seattle at Chicago

Be the first team to have a losing record coming into the playoffs and defeat the defending Super Bowl champions? Check.

Get the opportunity to advance in the playoffs and take on a team the Seahawks have already beaten on the road this season? Check.

Head coach Pete Carroll having to worry about his team feeling overconfident about Sunday’s Divisional playoff game in Chicago against the Bears?

“Oh man,” chuckled Carroll during his Wednesday press conference from the Seahawks’ Renton, Wash. training facilities, “no, no have you watched our season? No, the last thing we’re gonna be is over confident.”

A continued confidence boost could come by repeating what the team did in the Windy City earlier this season.

Against the Bears in Week Six, the Seahawks pulled out a 23-20 victory thanks in large part to its defense. Forcing the Bears to become relatively one-dimensional, quarterback Jay Cutler had 39 pass attempts compared to the team’s 14 total rushes.

Seattle wasn’t the only team this season to find success against Chicago by keeping the team out of balance on offense. In six games when the Bears attempted at least 10 more passes than the number of its total run plays, they were 1-5. When the Bears didn’t hit the 100-yard mark on the ground, the team was 2-4.

Compare those numbers to one more and it’s clear Seattle wants the ball in Jay Cutler’s hands. After a sophomore slump in 2009, running back Matt Forte’s re-emerged, especially of late, averaging slightly less than six yards per carry over his last three games.

Like Forte, Seattle’s starter in the backfield has performed well recently and can expect to be counted on to make an impact Sunday in Chicago. Following a 75-yard performance to end the regular season, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Marshawn Lynch eluded numerous New Orleans tacklers last weekend in route to amassing 131 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Looking to limit the effectiveness Sunday of Lynch and teammate Justin Forsett will be one of the National Football League’s top defensive linemen.

“When you have a guy like Julius Peppers,…you have to game plan accordingly, you know?” said Seattle’s Pete Carroll of the first-year Chicago defensive end who has eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions this season.

“He’s a great football player that can dominate a game.”

Peppers isn’t the only defender on Carroll’s radar.

“He’s, you know, perfect,” said Seattle’s head coach of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. “I mean, you just don’t find guys with, with defensive back skills…that are, you know, as big as he is and can run so fast. He’s mastered how to play the defense – the Tampa Two defense … – with a linebacker that can play deep middle and hit you in the back field…you know, it’s amazing he can do it so well.”

Sunday’s kickoff between the Seahawks and the Bears at Soldier Field is set for 1:00 p.m. Eastern and will be televised on FOX.

Can’t get enough SeahawksGab? Follow Editor Devon Heinen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DevonHeinen.


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