Chicago Bears will play Seahawks
By downing the Eagles 21-16 in the wild card round on Sunday, the sixth-seeded Packers forced a clash between the No. 2 seed Bears and the No. 4 seed Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Soldier Field.
The Seahawks pulled off a stunning 41-36 upset Saturday of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Interestingly, Seattle also scored a 23-20 win at Soldier Field in October over a Bears team still finding its way on offense under new coordinator Mike Martz.
"I don't know if [familiarity with the opponent] benefits us or not. Teams change so much from game to game," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. "I think we're a completely different team from Week 1 to Week 16. So if we do play somebody we've played before, you can guarantee they're going to have something special drawn up for us."
The Seahawks reeled off 353 yards of offense and dominated time of possession in the first meeting between the teams by nearly 10 minutes, as receiver Mike Williams caught 10 passes for 123 yards against the Bears' vaunted defense.
The Bears countered offensively with a pass-run ratio of 39 to 12, while finishing 0-for-12 on third-down conversions with Cutler absorbing six sacks.
But as Cutler pointed out, the teams are totally different from the last time they met.
"I think it goes both ways," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "They know us a little better, too."
Since the Week 6 outing between the Bears and Seahawks, the teams have headed in seemingly different directions. Prior to the upset over the Saints on Saturday, the Seahawks' last quality win came over the Bears. In seven losses after their win at Soldier Field, the Seahawks were blown out by an average score of 37-15.
Still, Seattle managed to keep pace with one of the most dangerous offenses in the league Saturday, with Lynch posting the first 100-yard day (131 yards on 19 attempts) by a Seahawk all season, highlighted by a back-breaking 67-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Bears, meanwhile, lost one more outing after falling to the Seahawks before a Week 8 bye. Afterward, the Bears rolled to victories in seven of their last nine games with a vastly-improved offense that still doesn't appear to have peaked.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, and coach Lovie Smith claimed the team didn't have a preference for its opponent in the divisional round. Smith is 3-2 in games against the Seahawks.
"It's not about who we play, but how we play," Angelo said last week. "We have to play good football. There's not one opponent we favor over another because everybody now is very, very good."
The duo mentioned the revenge factor in facing the Seahawks during interviews on Sunday with "Chicago's NFL Gameday" on ESPN 1000.
"I definitely want to play the Seahawks because they beat us earlier in the season," Harris said.
Gould pointed out some of the challenges the Bears were facing in October when the team hosted the Seahawks.
"Obviously, we didn't play that good of a game against them," Gould said. "We were, as a team, trying to found out what our identity was."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.