Seattle (8-9) vs. Chicago (11-5), 10 a.m. Sunday on FOX.
The Series: The Seahawks hold an 8-4 edge over the Bears. Seattle has lost its past seven playoff games on the road, including a 27-24 overtime loss at Chicago on Jan. 14, 2007, the lone playoff game between the teams.
The Coaches: Chicago head coach Lovie Smith is 63-49 in seven seasons with the Bears. His teams have made two playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2006 season. Smith has a 4-2 playoff record. Seattle’s Pete Carroll has a 40-40 record in five seasons in the NFL. He has a 2-2 record in the postseason.
Last game: The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20 in Chicago on Oct. 17, sacking Jay Cutler six times and holding Chicago’s offense to 0 of 12 on third downs. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 242 yards an a touchdown in that game.
Injury report: For Seattle – LB Lofa Tatupu (concussion) is questionable. C Chris White (non-injury related) is probable. For Chicago – No injuries to report.
The MatchupsQuarterback: Matt Hasselbeck put a so-so regular season behind him by throwing for 272 yards and a franchise playoff record four touchdowns in beating the defending Super Bowl Champs, the New Orleans Saints, last week. Hasselbeck has a 5-5 posteason record and will make his 11 playoff appearance, the most of any quarterback in the NFC left in the playoffs. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler is playing in his first playoff game, after a season in which he finished with 3,274 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Edge: Seahawks
Running back: Chicago running back Matt Forte finished with his second, 1,000-yard season of his short career, rushing for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns. And Forte is a dual threat, tied for the team lead with 51 receptions for 547 yards and three touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch picked his first playoff game for his best performance as a Seahawk, finishing with 131 yards on 19 carries, including a memorable, 67-yard run to seal last week’s victory over New Orleans for Seattle. Edge: Bears
Receivers: The Bears have five different receivers with at least three touchdowns on the year, led by speedster Johnny Knox (51 receptions for 960 yards and five touchdowns) and tight end Greg Olson (41 receptions for 404 yards and five touchdowns. Cutler likes to go to his former teammate from Vanderbilt Earl Bennett on third down. Mike Williams finished with 10 receptions for 123 yards in the first contest against Chicago, and should get a lot of work again in this game. Edge: Bears
Offensive line: Chicago Center Olin Kreutz anchors a young but improving offensive line for Chicago that still gave up a league-worst 56 sacks on the year. The Seahawks have used 10 different offensive line combinations so far this season, but in the last two games they have created some push in the running game, allowing the team to rush for an average of 145 yards the last, two games. Offensive tackle Sean Locklear and center Chris Spencer both have playoff experience. Edge: Seahawks.
Defensive line: All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers anchors Chicago’s defensive line with eight sacks on the season, tied with fellow defensive end Israel Idonije. The Bears only allow 90 rushing yards a game, second-best in the league. Defensive tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane give Seattle some solid run stuffers inside. And defensive ends Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock have combined for 21 sacks on the year, third-most in the league. Edge: Bears
Linebacker: Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are two of the best linebackers in the league, with an ability to be effective in the run game and also drop back in pass coverage. The Bears also have forced 37 turnovers, second-most in the league. Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu has done a nice job of leading the defense this season but is questionable because of a concussion. David Hawthorne leads the team in tackles, but this group would suffer a drop off if Tatupu can’t play. Edge: BearsSecondary: The Bears will give up the deep ball on occasion, but they also have 21 interceptions on the year, led by cornerback Charles Tillman (5 interceptions and three forced fumbles), who likely will match up with Mike Williams. Seattle’s secondary has played better of late, but they still have given up 31 touchdowns in the regular season, third-most in the league. Edge: BearsSpecial teams: Chicago return man Devin Hester finished with an NFL-record 17.1 yard average on punt returns, taking three back for touchdowns, including an 89-yard score against Seattle earlier this season. But Seattle’s Leon Washington also is one of the best return men in the game. Kicker Olindo Mare finished among the league leaders in touchbacks, and Seattle has one of the better punt and kickoff coverage units in the league. Edge: Seahawks
Coaching: Pete Carroll is a proven veteran in postseason competition with his experience in both college and in the pros, and once again will have to figure out a way to get his team ready for the challenge of facing one of the better teams in the league on the road, but the Seahawks are playing with house money right now and will play loose. Chicago head coach Lovie Smith has a lot of pressure on his team to perform and advance to the NFC Championship game next week in a matchup most expect Chicago to win. But he has taken his team to a Super Bowl. Edge: Bears
The News Tribune Pick: Just like last week, even though Seattle beat Chicago earlier this season, the Bears could get caught looking past this game in expectation of reaching the NFC title game next week. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Seattle’s front seven defensively will play well enough for the Seahawks to get it done. Seahawks 23-20.