1. Don’t let the hangover beat you. This is more about effort than it is about scheme or any specific matchup. A few defensive players admitted their effort in the second half of last week’s loss to Green Bay wasn’t where it needed to be, with complacency setting in after going up 20-0. And the aftershocks from Sunday could be more than blowing a 20-0 lead: It was Week 1, on the road, at Lambeau Field, against a rival and a hobbled quarterback who’ve dominated them for the last decade.
That could make moving on from this loss more difficult than usual — though coach Matt Nagy and players around Halas Hall this week have said their focus shifted to the Seattle Seahawks by the middle of the week. So the concern here is the Bears come out flat on Monday night — but if they don’t, and put forth the effort we saw in the first 30 minutes in Green Bay, they’ll be in good shape to earn their first win of the season.
2. Pressure Russell Wilson without needing to blitz, and then “plaster” receivers. The Denver Broncos had success affecting Wilson in their 27-24 Week 1 victory, with Wilson under pressure on 18 of his 40 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. But most of their success against him came when not blitzing: Wilson threw one touchdown, both of his interceptions and had a passer rating of 67.7 when the Broncos didn’t blitz; when they did, he threw two touchdowns and had a rating of 134. Granted, the Broncos hit home on a third of their nine blitzes for sacks, but when Wilson was able to throw he was adept at making Denver pay for sending extra defenders.
The good news for the Bears: The Seahawks’ offensive line looks suboptimal, and right tackle Germain Ifedi allowed two sacks last week. Expect Khalil Mack to be lined up on the right all Monday night, which — as it did in the first half last week — should open up opportunities for Akiem Hicks to disrupt things on the interior. And when Wilson does escape pressure, Bears defensive backs need to stick with or “plaster,” as they put it, a group of pass catchers that won’t include top wideout Doug Baldwin (knee).
3. Take advantage of a thin Seahawks defense by being aggressive. Linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner — who played all 74 snaps in Week 1 and was graded as the Seahawks’ second-best defender by PFF — won’t play on Monday night. That should soften up the middle of the field for running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and tight ends Trey Burton and Dion Sims, though the Seahawks did sign, and will play, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was released by the Browns last month after being pleading guilty to insider trading (his sentencing isn’t until January, and he’s appealing the NFL’s suspension of him).
But this group, even with Wagner and Wright, isn’t close to what it was in the Legion of Boom years. Broncos running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for 142 yards on 30 carries, while Case Keenum threw for 329 yards with three touchdowns (and three interceptions). This is a beatable group, and if Nagy and Mitch Trubisky can keep their collective feet on the gas pedal after scripted plays run out — shots downfield, pounding the ball to Howard, etc — it should make for a successful Monday night at Soldier Field.
Prediction: Bears 27, Seahawks 20. The thought process here is Trubisky and the offense account for two touchdowns while the defense, for the second consecutive week, gets into the end zone. Mack, Hicks and Roquan Smith all have big games but Wilson will still get his, though it won’t be enough as the Bears’ offense is able to consistently sustain drives against the depleted Seahawks defense.