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What to watch for in Seahawks-Bears on 'MNF'

NFL.com | Updated: 2018-09-20 02:00:18

The Seattle Seahawks (0-1) and Chicago Bears (0-1) don't have a storied history against each other, as Monday night represents the 16th meeting between the teams.

Seattle holds an 11-4 edge in the all-time series, winning the last four meetings and Pete Carroll holds a 5-1 career record against the Bears. But this is a different Bears team from the 2015 meeting, and Chicago has a first-year coach in Matt Nagy and there is plenty of optimism for a turnaround with Nagy at the helm.

While the Bears couldn't withstand an Aaron Rodgers-led comeback in Week 1, the team showed promise in the first half en route to a 17-0 lead behind second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky and a swarming defense before losing 24-23.

The Seahawks couldn't hold a four-point lead in the fourth quarter last week, resulting in a 27-24 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Meanwhile, what both teams hope to avoid in Week 2 is falling to 0-2 and into the basement in their divisions.

Here are five areas to watch on Monday Night Football:

1. How do the Bears handle Russell Wilson?


Wilson can put pressure on a defense with his arm and legs, and how Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio schemes against him will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.

But given his time as a defensive coordinate with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, Fangio should be very familiar on the best practices to defend Wilson. From 2012 to 2014, Wilson posted a 4-2 record against Fangio's defenses, but the elusive signal-caller passed for more than 200 yards just once in that span, while adding 136 yards rushing and no touchdowns on 32 carries.

The Bears' defense, which welcomed Khalil Mack before Week 1, certainly has the speed and athleticism to keep a close eye on Wilson with a view to keep him in the pocket and limit the scrambling.

2. Speaking of Mack


Seahawks starting right tackle Germain Ifedi must be wondering what he did to deserve squaring off against Broncos All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller, who totaled three sacks in Week 1, to now preparing to face Mack in consecutive weeks.

The newest Bears defensive player totaled three tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a 27-yard pick-six in his debut last week, and the Bears eased in Mack with 42 snaps out of the team's 60 defensive plays. Now, Mack is primed to see more action after getting acclimated to game action and the Bears' defensive playbook.

The Seahawks would be wise to consider getting Ifedi some help throughout the game or risk leaving him one-on-one against another elite pass rusher with less than desired results.

3. Can the Seahawks establish the run?


Seattle signaled a commitment to a running game during the offseason with the hiring of Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator, but now it's a matter of showing it.

The Seahawks rushed the ball just 16 times for 64 yards in Week 1, but the running game is forever an ally for a team on the road in a hostile environment. The biggest question, however, surrounds who gets the carries -- Chris Carson or rookie Rashaad Penny, the team's first-round pick?

If the Bears are successful in containing Wilson's ability to hurt them outside of the pocket, Carson or Penny must emerge to provide a balanced attack.

4. What will the Bears offense do?


Trubisky started off hot in Week 1, completing 11 of 14 passes for 109 yards and rushing for a touchdown before halftime. Then, he fizzled in the final two quarters, completing 12 of 21 passes for 62 yards.

The Bears need consistency in every quarter from Trubisky, who has weapons around him with running back Jordan Howard and wide receiver Allen Robinson.

Howard totaled 107 yards (82 rushing, 25 rushing) in Week 1 and he should be able to exploit a Seattle run defense that surrendered 146 yards against the Broncos.

Should the Seahawks' revamped defense force the Bears to throw the football, Trubisky should find some success when considering Seattle also allowed Broncos quarterback Case Keenum to throw for 326 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions.

Of note, the Seahawks are without starting linebackers Bobby Wagner (groin) and K.J. Wright (knee) for Monday night's matchup. The Bears offense must take advantage of Seattle's backup linebackers.

5. Heavyweight returner battle


Monday night's game features two of the league's most electrifying returners with Seattle's Tyler Lockett and Chicago's Tarik Cohen.

Lockett, who had a 30-yard return in Week 1, boasts an average of 25.7 yard per kickoff return and 8.1 yards per punt return on his career.

Cohen, who enters his second season, averaged 22.1 yards per kickoff return and 10.2 yards per punt return in his rookie season of 2017. He had two punt returns for 45 yards last week, including a 42-yard effort.

In a game of inches, look for Lockett and Cohen to have a role in determining field position to help their team's chances for a win.

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