Seattle Seahawks (8-9 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (11-5 SU, 9-6-1
ATS), NFC Divisional Playoffs, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 16,
2011, Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill., TV: FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Sea +10/CHI -10
Over/Under Total: 40
The Seattle Seahawks shocked the football world and disposed of the
defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in incredible
fashion last weekend in an NFC Wildcard matchup, so now the
Cinderella story Seahawks will move on to an NFC Divisional Playoff
game Sunday at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears in the early
game on Fox.
Nobody gave Seattle much of a chance in the game against the Saints last Saturday, but the Seahawks cashed in as huge 10.5-point
underdogs when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw for four touchdowns
in the improbable, 41-36, victory at home in Qwest Field.
Now the Seahawks take their Us against the World mentality on the
road to Chicago, the same place where they beat the Bears 23-20 back
in week six, in the third of four rematches in the NFL Divisional
playoffs this weekend.
Despite not getting a whole lot of respect this season, the Bears
come into their first game of the 2011 NFL playoffs as winners of
seven of their last nine games in the regular season. They did lose
in their finale, 10-3, at the hands of the must-win Packers, but they
beat the New York Jets (38-34) and Minnesota (40-14) down the stretch
to keep momentum rolling and earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC to put
themselves into what now looks like a great position to get back into
the NFC Championship game.
Oddsmakers are not counting on the Seahawks to pull off another
miracle on the road this week either, as once again they are double-
digit underdogs at the start of the week with the opening point
spread listed with the Bears as 10-point favorites at home. A few of
the bigger offshore sportsbooks have even moved the number up
already, with Bovada listing the Bears as 10.5-point favorites and
5Dimes.com up to 11 points.
The over/under total opened at 40 but it quickly adjusted itself to
its currently number of 41 at a large majority of the sportsbooks
either on the Web or out in Las Vegas. You can still find a total of
40 on the board at some books and a few 40.5 here and there,
but everyone else is already up to 41 as the total seems to be
creeping higher with the early money coming in to the window on the
I think its safe to say that not too many people predicted the kind
of offense the Seahawks and Hasselbeck put up on the Saints last
weekend. Hasselbeck only threw for 272 yards on the game, but he was
in full command at the line of scrimmage and picked apart the
weaknesses in the Saints secondary in the middle quarters to rally
the Seahawks for the stunning victory.
Running back Marshawn Lynch added 131 yards to help draw down the
clock in the fourth quarter, including an instant classic 67-yard
touchdown run late in the fourth to seal the game for the Seahawks.
Whats interesting to note is that the Seahawks modus operandi in the
win last week over the Saints follows almost the same script they
used in the victory over the Bears in week six.
In that mid-October game the Seahawks defense forced the Bears to be
one-dimensional on offense (Bears only 61 yards on 14 carries), used
some great decision-making from Hasselbeck (25-of-40 for 242 yards,
TD) in the middle quarters to get a lead two-score lead (led 23-13
early in 4th quarter), then milked the clock with a ground game that
gave them just enough to notch the win.
With the exception of a late 89-yard punt return by Devin Hester for
a score, the Bears offense was held in check all game long by the
Seattle defense that frustrated quarterback Jay Cutler enough to
force some inaccurate throws (Cutler finished 17-of-39) especially in
the red zone.
Look for the Bears to set the tone early on offense to try and get
Matt Forte and the running game going, something they were unable to
do in the first meeting. If Forte and the Bears can get the ground
game going, even a little bit, the pressure on Cutler to make throws
will lessen and the Bears might get back in control of the time of
possession clock (Seattle 34 minutes in first game, Bears 25 minutes).
Not only do we have the week six result from this season to draw upon
for handicapping this game, but these same two teams met back in 2007
in the same NFC Divisional round at Soldier Field in a game won by
kicker Robbie Goulds 49-yard field goal in overtime, 27-24. In that
game the Seahawks were (ironically) 9.5-point underdogs and had two
chances at trying to win the game in regulation late in the fourth
quarter, but both times the Bears defense rose to the occasion (once
on a sack, once on a 4th-and-1 tackle for a loss) to force OT and
eventually win the game.
Its no secret to most handicappers that Seattle is a lousy road
team, going 16-35-1 ATS in their last 52 road games, but they are
especially bad when playing against good teams on the road (3-12 ATS
in last 15 road game vs. team with winning home record).
The problem is that the Bears have not been too kind to bettors in
the playoffs either, going 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff games
and just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as a home favorite of 3.5 to
The one betting trend that jumps off the paper at you is the over wager.
Not only is the over 5-0 in the last five head-to-head meetings
between these two teams, but the over is also 4-1 in the Seahawks
last five playoff games as the underdog and its also 8-1 in the
Bears last nine games in January and 4-1 in their last five playoff
games at home at Soldier Field.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This isn’t a game in which I have an overly strong feeling about, but am going to stick with common sense which is “it’s all about who’s hot”. A team is only as good as it’s last game and Seattle may just believe that they’re a team of winners. I’m grabbing the +10 points.