Will Seahawks’ Young Defense Stand up to the Bears on Monday Night Football?

Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago offense must take advantage of the Seattle defense that, aside from veteran Earl Thomas, is still finding its footing.
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Two franchises hope to avoid the club of winless teams after two weeks of the 2018 NFL season. Three things to know before Seahawks-Bears (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) on Monday Night Football...

1. Seattle’s retooled defense isn’t close to what we’ve seen from this franchise in past years. Last week against Denver, rookies like linebacker Shaquem Griffin, cornerback Tre Flowers and, to a lesser degree, defensive end Rasheem Green, struggled with technique and, in Griffin’s case, play identification. Griffin was benched at times for Austin Calitro, who wasn’t much better. Barring drastic, immediate improvements from its youngsters, this defense will be playing uphill, especially until linebacker K.J. Wright recovers from last month’s arthroscopic knee surgery. This week could be particularly ugly given how Chicago’s misdirection-based offense stresses defenders to make poised reads.

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2. One thing that hasn’t changed with Seattle’s D is its formidability at free safety. Earl Thomas, still less than two weeks removed from a long holdout, looks like Earl Thomas. He was extremely aggressive last Sunday, sitting low and jumping routes from his centerfield position. Uncharacteristically, the Seahawks also employed a few two-high zone coverages in obvious passing situations, and Thomas made plays there, as well. Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears must push the ball downfield more assertively than they did last week at Green Bay, and Thomas makes that dicey.

3. The Seahawks offense is already built more for a run-first approach, which sets up more of the out-of-pocket pass designs that capitalize on Russell Wilson’s mobility. With top receiver Doug Baldwin out (knee), running the ball becomes even more critical. Expect many of those runs to go left Monday night, away from stars Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks.

Bold Prediction: Wilson, against Chicago’s blurry zone coverages, will tuck the ball often and run for over 50 yards in this game, but Seattle’s offense altogether will have under 300 yards.

Score Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 16

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