NFC Divisional Playoffs
Seattle Seahawks (4) at Chicago Bears (2), Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Sunday, January 16, 2011, 1 pm EST, TV: FOX
Opening Line: Bears -9.5
Current Line: Bears -10
Opening Total: 40
Current Total: 41
Money Line: Bears -500 / Seahawks +400
The odds of the Seattle Seahawks (8-9) repeating last week’s thrilling 41-36 upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints might be slim as they visit the Chicago Bears (11-5) on Sunday. But the pressure is clearly on the heavily favored Bears (-10) to avenge arguably their worst early-season loss when they meet again at Soldier Field.
Chicago suffered consecutive losses at home to Seattle and Washington before the team’s bye week and then reeled off seven wins in the last nine games. Stability on the offensive line and a renewed commitment to the running game both helped take pressure off quarterback Jay Cutler and were the main reasons behind the successful turnaround for the Bears.
The first meeting saw the Seahawks earn a 23-20 win in a game that was not as close as the final score because Chicago’s Devin Hester returned a punt return 89 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Seattle sacked Cutler six times for 44 yards in his first game back after sitting out a 23-6 victory at Carolina due to a concussion against the Giants the week before. However, Bears All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs also missed the first meeting due to an ankle injury.
Cutler’s maturity after the bye has obviously been aided by better protection and Chicago running back Matt Forte becoming a bigger part of the offense. Cutler completed 17 of 39 passes for 290 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in the first meeting with the Seahawks while Forte ran the ball just eight times for 11 yards. Forte has averaged 16 carries per game since then and 5.9 yards per carry over the last six games of the season, good for fifth-best in the league.
Seattle was coming off a bye week before beating the Bears but has also improved since their last meeting. Running back Marshawn Lynch played his first game with his new team at Chicago in Week 6 after arriving in a trade with Buffalo and was the difference maker last week against the Saints, clinching the win with a 67-yard touchdown run for a 41-30 lead in the final minutes.
Lynch ended up rushing for more than 89 yards for the first time with the Seahawks, ending the playoff game with 131 yards on 19 carries to complement quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s four-touchdown performance. Hasselbeck had his highest QB rating of the year at 113 against New Orleans despite not playing the previous game against St. Louis due to a hip injury.
The Bears won the last playoff meeting with Seattle 27-24 in overtime four years ago en route to the Super Bowl. They were similar favorites in that game at -9.5, and the Seahawks easily covered after pulling off a 21-20 home win against Dallas the previous week. However, that was also one of seven playoff road losses in a row for Seattle since 1983. The OVER has cashed in the last five meetings along with nine of the past 10 games for the Seahawks overall.
Now that you have read this NFC divisional playoff football betting preview featuring the Bears & Seahawks, check out the NFL odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.