Another prime-time NFL contest features a pair of teams trying to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. Each played well in stretches of Week 1, but neither could pull it off when it counted.
Squandered leads and missed opportunities highlighted both outcomes.
The Bears blew a 20-point 2nd-half lead against rival Green Bay after Aaron Rodgers returned from a golf-cart exit to miraculously torch the Chicago defense despite a bad knee. The Bears gave up 3 4th-quarter Rodgers’ touchdown passes to lose 24-23.
Chicago’s offense got off to a lightning-quick start. Much-maligned QB Mitchell Trubisky finished with only 171 passing yards, but he did some good things on college-style read option plays and on the scramble. Trubisky scored the Bears only offensive touchdown on a 2-yard touchdown run in the 1st quarter.
Another bright spot for the Bears was newly-acquired Khalil Mack. If it had not been for the Rodgers comeback, the linebacker might have been in front-of-mind for every fan and handicapper after the contest. Recently traded from the Oakland Raiders, Mack debuted for the Bears with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pick-6.
The Seahawks let crucial chances slip through their fingertips in a 27-24 road loss to the Denver Broncos. QB Russell Wilson was uncharacteristically sloppy, with 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles in the outing. Wilson still managed to throw for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Even after snagging 3 interceptions off of Case Keenum, the Seahawks were unable to hold on to a 24-20 lead in the 4th quarter. The Broncos took their final lead of the game with 11:11 left, and the Seattle offense could not convert another first down the remainder of the game.
The defensive backfield could be headed down a slide The Legion of Boom feels like a distant memory in Seattle after Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas burned the Seahawks for a combined 16 catches for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. There also remains a lack of production in the run game despite a talented combination of Chris Carson and touted rookie Rashaad Penny. Penny struggled with 8 yards on 7 carries in his NFL debut.
Chicago finds itself in the unlikely position of (-170) moneyline favorite and (-3 ½) point spread favorite against Seattle. But the Bears cannot have another meltdown on defense if bettors expect them to cover. Wilson may have had a bad Week 1, but he still has play-making ability to burn. Pete Carroll’s teams often develop and improve from week to week.
The Seahawks must generate a consistent rushing attack and a balanced offense. A combined 59 yards from the RB tandem of Carson and Penny is the opposite of what Carroll wants his offense to achieve. Making matters worse, the visitors will be without main receiving threat Doug Baldwin who is out with an MCL tear he suffered in the 1st quarter last weekend.
I still think the Seahawks will regroup, get better, and contend this season. But this feels like a scenario in which things get worse before they get better. Trubisky looks like a whole new player in his sophomore campaign as a starter, throwing accurately and helping the Bears grind out rushing yards. He may no longer be a liability against good defenses.
Take the Chicago Bears to cover (-3.5) at home on MNF.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.