Bernstein: Awful Seahawks Pose Unique Risk

By Dan Bernstein–

Placed in the unfamiliar role of prohibitive favorites, the Bears seem to be doing and saying everything they can to feel otherwise.

That’s what teams do, even if they know better on some level. Think Lou Holtz and Pat Fitzgerald, college coaches famous for keeping a straight face while describing their concocted concerns about lightweights. It’s easier to pull off when your locker room is full of kids.

The Seahawks are a rare kind of underdog at this point – a loser in the winners’ round. In fact, stat guru Nate Silver of the New York Times argues that they are the second-worst playoff team in the history of major professional sports, behind only the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets of 1952-53, who got in with a 16-54 record by backing into an automatic divisional berth.

Silver, a University of Chicago grad, 12-year Chicago resident, and former managing partner of Baseball Prospectus who now applies metric methodology to politics and economics, wrote before the playoffs began that “The Seahawks are not any garden-variety 7-9 team: they are an incredibly bad 7-9 team.”

(Before you interrupt to point out that Seattle beat the Saints, know that Silver – level-headedly as always – accounted for the possibility of that due to a marked home-field advantage for them at Qwest against a dome team)

Using yardage differential, point differential, strength of schedule, and Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, he made a convincing case that the Seahawks were actually the NFL’s very worst team in the regular season, and playing poorly as ever leading up to the playoffs.

Silver only ranks them second with caveats. “So there you have it, Seahawks fans, you lucky dogs, you. You are probably no worse than the 1953 Baltimore Bullets. At least when you’re playing at home. And when Matt Hasselbeck is healthy.”

Hasselbeck is healthy, or at least as healthy as the brittle, 35-year-old QB can be, but Sunday’s game is in Chicago.

So the Bears charmed year, now, has led them to a point of little to gain and everything to lose: either take care of a woebegone opponent and register a perfunctory divisional win (as if any playoff victory can be regarded so blithely), or incite utter civil unrest with an unconscionable loss.

The tenuous good will for Lovie Smith generated by an improbable 11-win season would dissolve instantly. A large subset of Bear fans would revert to preseason form as if waking from a trance: I’m talking about the loss-craving masochists who have spent all season tied in mental knots, grudgingly scabbing over with each next win, and trying to reconcile actually, you know, rooting for their team. They’d be mobbing again.

It’s either on to the NFC Championship or total chaos.

The Bears losing to a team as clearly overmatched as Seattle would be unthinkable to most, yet oddly fitting to some.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Brendan D

    Dan, I’d be with you 100% if it weren’t for something on which you’re always harping: statistics are not a constant in the NFL. Because stats often don’t matter game-to-game or even season-to-season, and because Nate Silver’s projection models are all based on statistics, I don’t think referencing Silver’s quotes really helps you plead your case.

    The Seahawks could easily win on Sunday, though I certainly don’t expect them to — but it’s not going to be because of any statistical advantage they’ve had this season over the Bears. Hell, the Bears could end up winning because of a great block by Chris Williams or an incredible play by Devin Aromoshadu. If we refer to statistics, these are highly unlikely occurrences, but it IS the NFL, after all.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Good blog Bernsie.
    The Bears should win.
    On “any given Sunday” is totally true.
    My goodness, the Browns beat the Patriots this year.
    Also, the Seahawks are on a bit of an uptick…they improved from bad to mediocre as the season progressed.
    Still, I expect the Bears to win.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Bernsie is right…if the beloved blow-it this Sunday, a large contingent of the torch and pitchfork society will be after Lovie……that would be a tough loss to swallow.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    Hey giving this season wear we all, myself included, thought this was anywhere from a 5-9 win team, and certainly not a playoff team, much less Divison Champs. So the Bears losing Sunday wouldn’t be shocking. On another note, anybody else watch the Onion Sports Dome, last night?

    • bigtime sucker

      you mean 5-11, the nfl season is 16 games. or did you mean 7-9? i am confused LOL

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Wow, what a great, great moniker.
        Ditka’s Sweater.

      • Ditka's Sweater

        He means a season that garnered a range of 5 to 9 wins. In other words, the worst they were expected to do was 5-11 and the best was 9-7.

  • Jeff


    Would you please tell your crack production staff to please post the correct podcasts. I was unable to hear yesterdays show and wanted to catchup on it this morning with the podcasts but the podcast is for a show like last week when Rich Rodriguez got fired.

    Whoever is in charge the podcasts needs to be fired. Wrong podcasts to wrong shows for this station is more the rule than the exception and it should be unacceptable..

    • Sophist

      Amen, brother. I don’t know the reason for this, so I’ll stop short of calling for any firings, but this is getting a little silly. What’ worse is no responsiveness from those in charge — I’ve sent e-mails and posted messages but heard nary a word to explain, make an excuse, apologize, etc.

    • George Oscar Bluth

      Totally agree. The “new” site is worse than the first make over was. Really it’s too bad. I used to be able to jump on a Metra at 5 pm, head to suburbs and listen to the 1, 2, 3 pm hour of that day’s show on my iPhone. Now, not only can I not listen to it on my iPhone (I’ll echo what was already said about the purported PodCast, and add that it is a total pain in the you know what to download that podcast as opposed to just clicking somewhere on the site and getting the thing to play on my iPhone), usually it take a lonnnnnng time to get on a PC.

      CBS: you’ve somehow, in trying to better monetize the Score website, made consuming your product an awful experience that I don’t want to endure. Isn’t that the opposite of smart business?

      The worst part, though, is that Bernsy never says a word about this on air or elsewhere to let us know that the Show is aware of the issues and would like something done about it. Seems silly to me.

      And what happened to the listeners who used to post hour by hour links in the comments section? WE NEED YOU BACK!!

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thanks GOB for laying it all out there.
        I like to listen to pods on the train, can usually get home and listen to the 5-6 hour, then my wife gets home so the web-stream goes off at 6-ish.
        There used to be someone (last name was Aranoff???) who would respond, and he really seemed to care…my guess was that he was a smart intern or an IT guy who cared.
        The only time Bernsie ever mentioned the website was to say, a few weeks ago, that some guy from CBS told him it was making a ton of cash.

  • Adam McElwain

    I would say that if the Bears lose to Seattle again at home, that winning our division truly meant nothing this year. To further elaborate, that would mean that Lovie Smith’s job should be lost after this season. The fact that we lost to them once at home is bad enough. To lose to them again at home in the playoffs would truly be pathetic.

    • Chris in Scottsdale


      If the Bears lose this weekend, it is no different to me than if they had gone 8-8 or 7-9 as many of us expected them to this season.

      This is a blood game. Even with the division title, I think a Seattle upset will jumpstart the familiar chorus call for heads to roll across Bear Fandom all over again.

  • Jake from da burbs

    The real question that begs to be asked is… Does a loss to the Seahawks merit Lovie and company getting fired?

    As good as the Bears have been all season, Rosenbloom in the posed this very question. Does a loss to the Seahawks, the worst playoff team in the history of the NFL merit firings at Halas Hall? I think its perfectly valid.

    As fine a job as Love Smith and his staff have done this year, I think if you lose to the Seahawks in the playoffs, you get fired. I know we made the playoffs this year but can you really say this team made progress and heading in the right direction with a loss to the Seahawks? Really?? I say NO!

    • bigtime sucker

      can should and would are all different questions. Can lovie be fired, in theory yeah, he can fired if we win the superbowl, there are enough bad seasons to warrent it and if they win, the bears might not want to extend his per year salary beyond 5 million. Should he be fired, of course he should. You need to win when it counts the most and you need to win the games against lesser teams to increase your teams portfolio and your portfolio

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        thanks for the reality-check bts

      • bigtime sucker

        (continued to avoid auto refresh)and win convincingly i might add. Will he be fired, NO HE WON’T, why? last year of contract, CBA uncertainty, locked into 5 million next year and a new coach would demand MINIMUM 2 million if not more especially to coach a vetern win now team. remember folks, there might not even be a season to worry about next year, so everybody’s future is uncertain at this point.

      • Denver Smeghead

        Pfft. Reality.

    • Denver Smeghead

      I agree: if we lose, Lovie has to go.

      Now, some might ask whether Payton down in NO should also be fired. Well, they lost on the road, and they’re the defending champs.

      The Bears, meanwhile, are coming off three-straight seasons of failing to make the playoffs. And while they certainly have exceeded expectations this year, this is a home game.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    I remember the week leading up to that game VS Seattle, everyone on the Score, and the people they were talking to, frome Seattle said there is no way Seattle would beat Chicago, so I’m saying we better come out swinging, and look like a team that is a Division Champ, and looks like we belong in thje playoffs.

  • bigtime sucker

    IT’S EASY FOLKs, if the bears play THEIR GAME and execute their game plan the way they should, they will win. If they try to much, try to get cute, blitz to much, go empty 5 wide too much, don’t max protect, don’t run downhill but try to run sideline to sideline, play man coverage, dont gang tackle, don’t pressure with the front four they will LOSE. all they have to do is play bears football, the way we have seen it since the bye, the way we always have envisioned it, simple effective defense, simple effective offense, be more physical and just wear them down, we CAN’T LOSE because the Seahawks need us to make mistakes and try things we aren’t comoftable with to win, that’s how they won in october, i don’t think the script will be the same as octobers, and they cna’t just man up against us

    • Denver Smeghead

      Yeah, well, nothing comes easy with this Bears team.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I believe the Bears shall win.
    But, if they don’t…I still place more blame with JA for providing a horsespit O-line.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Multi-media platforms work!
    Today I just saw an ad on the Score website for Estwing hamnmers.
    I always wondered what the name of that product was.
    I have heard Doug for years slobber their name through his false teeth and I always thought it was S-wing.


    One would think that in a rematch like that, the losing team in the first game would be the team that wins come playoff time. As much as I think the Bears will beat the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff rematch Sunday at Soldier Field, let’s not forget what I said in this space last week. In this year’s NFL, if there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s this. Expect the unexpected. I think there were a lot of NFL experts, writers and even SCORE hosts that expected to see a rematch with Michael Vick and the Eagles or Drew Brees and the Saints Sunday on the Lakefront. Instead the Seahawks provide the opposition for our Bears in the NFL’s second season. If another loss to Seattle isn’t bad enough, should the Packers beat the Falcons Saturday night in the other NFC Divisional Playoff game, Seattle’s Qwest Field would host the NFC Championship Game next Sunday at 2p. Needless to say, FOX Sports’ Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver & Chris Myers aren’t necessarily prepared to go Northwest on Championship Sunday.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Almost as many posts already today as all of yesterday.
    I think it will be a looong time before Bernsie blogs on NU hoops.

    I want to reiterate the problem with the podcasts.
    I know that people have posted about that, but I want to add my comment also in the hope that someone from the Score will address/fix the problem.

    Trevor Hoffman is HOF….just a tremendous Closer.

    • bigtime sucker

      i don’t think the question is hoffman HOF material, i think the question is, are closers in general HOF material. For the living mummy’s that make up the BBWA probably not, i think the voting lot needs new blood that can adapt to how the game as adapted to stress the importance of players in limited roles like closers and DH”s. you master your role like no other, than that should be rewarded, regardless of the fact you only came in for an inning or two per game!!!

  • bigtime sucker

    if we make it to the NFC championship, why does the NFC get the early round? The NFC always gets the early round!!! The NFL has a CBS bias i swear

    abshark, you seem to really care about the announcers, which group do you prefer the most?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I agree with you as to the NFL/CBS.
    The beloved always, always put up huge numbers in the ratings.

    Personally I prefer Buck/Aikman on Fox.
    Of them all, I like NBC best because of Collinsworth.

    What do you think?

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Looking through the Cutler trade, something caught my eye.
    The Bears gave up two first rounders and a third. The Broncos traded that third to Pittsburgh, where it became… Mike Wallace.

    Also, during their leaps around the first round this year, they junped into and out of picks that became Dez Bryant and Aaron Hernandez.

    That team majorly pooched itself over the last 24 months, didn’t it?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      If the trade had never happened, I am confident that JA would have effed-up royally with the picks also. That’w why I have always supported the trade.

      Good info, Chris.

      • Glockster

        I have to admit that it is slightly paradoxical that we lament the loss of picks that Angelo would have missed on anyway. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that the reason he had to spend those picks on Cutler is because he couldn’t draft a QB by himself and the reason he had to sign Peppers at a high (though appropriate) price is because he couldn’t draft a defensive line himself. Angelo bought off his mistakes and his failures at possibly the most important aspect of being an NFL GM is why I still think he needs to be shown the door.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Now, that was really impressive analysis Glockster.
        The JA approach is 180-degrees away from the Patriots and Colts approach.

  • Chris in Scottsdale


    You make a very good point, but given the absurd signing bonuses given to first rounders, along with the overvaluation of draft picks, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bears trade high draft picks for proven NFL talent until the end of time.

    I mean, Jared Allen for a 15th overall pick and two third rounders? Sign me up.

    • Glockster

      That is a fair point, but of course the absurdness of the bonus is tied to how good the player is. If the GM can hit on first round picks, the pay is at least roughly commensurate with quality of play.

      You are definitely right that there is quality talent in the mid and even later rounds, but the Al Afalava’s and Devin Aromashodu’s of the world can only take a team so far. Beyond that, the days of the $50 million dollar bonuses before guys play a snap may be numbered with the new CBA anyway.

      The recent signings and the Cutler trade functioned mostly to get the Bears back to the baseline where they should have been by making up for Mark Anderson, Tommie Harris, and Rex Grossman. Angelo kept the Bears out of the toilet (and avoided the burden and potential embarrassment of having a high pick) but I don’t think he’s accomplished much more than that.


    Factually speaking, regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s games, Championship Sunday goes like this. FOX Sports, which has Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, TX, will have the first game at 2p Sunday, January 23rd. CBS Sports will then have the AFC Championship game later that night at 5:30p. I don’t know why that is, but that’s beyond my control.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    here’s a little sports nugget if you missed it late last night…

    the lakers defeated the cavaliers 112-57 at the staples center. lebron, in los angeles with his team soon to face the clippers, tweeted this gem at the end of the lakers-cavs game…

    “Crazy. Karma is a (expletive) Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!”

    well, I think we can all conclude that lebron is a total child.

    I never want lebron to win a title, he may be the greatest talent to ever grace the NBA, but he is also the most self-centered spoiled little b.i.t.c.h that has ever played as well.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      LeBron must have the same image consultant and PR guys as Oney.
      You are right, he comes across as a spoiled child, though with actual physical talent (unlike Oney).

      Jon, your Magic have a good game tonight.

      LBJ is an @sshat.
      Someone like his agent needs to tell him that he will make a lot more $ by taking the high road.

      • bigtime sucker

        Lebron also needs to realize that Karma is a charactistic found in hinduism and budahism. The “God” he was i think referring to is Yahweh or just God which belongs to Christianity and Judaism. God and Karma are not related. it was for that point alone, a dumb statement. and regardless of your beliefs, God doesn’t really care about basketball or the outcomes of games. And Lebron should watch out, he signed for big money and fame and a hedonistic miami lifestyle in return he gave up his soul, his peace of mind, his home and just the comfort of being oneself in peace. Those are charactistics of Satan, who is the enemy of God, so if God is always watching, and God is always listening, then LOOK IN THE FRICKIN MIRROR

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Yeah, Jon…that final score was re-dunk-ulous.

        Luke Walton has an even better gig than a long-snapper.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        and i expect another win :)

      • Jon, Montgomery

        i truly feel bad for the cavaliers though.

        did you see the score i posted???

        LAKERS: 112
        CAVS: 57

        and for a while, it looked as if the cavs wouldn’t even break 50!!! i watched the entire game and i was considering the LARGE possibility that the cavs were going to set a new scoring low, (breaking the bulls record low of 49), but phil pulled his starters and i got to see that luke walton still plays in the NBA.

        but honestly, if there are any TRUE cleveland cavaliers fans out there, (people who were cavs fans before lebron and now after he’s left), GOD BLESS YOU.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Another podcast issue that we have been kvetching about is that the CBS Score website fails to offer podcasts of Drinky and Goff’s shows.
    I need to get to bed when they are usually on (get up at 4am), but I’d like to have pods of their shows to supplement the B&B pods.

    Anyone see that Mike Adamle was busted for DUI?
    He failed the sobriety test because his speech was NOT slurred!!!

    • AT3374


  • Denver Smeghead

    Gah, one of my posts just got eaten again for no damn good reason!

  • Ten Foot Midget


    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Wow, been a long time since you posted.
      Thanks for all the great WYC c.r.a.p.s. you provide (need to beat the CBS auto-censor).

  • Bruno

    I guess it’s a good thing for Seattle football is played out on the field, by men, rather than by geeks on a PC counting statistics who like to use terms like “incredibly bad” for a collection of individuals doing something they couldn’t even come close to doing.


    TEXT ‘ROSE’ TO ‘69622’

  • puddin' head

    Bernstein: Awful radio shows Pose a Unique Risk……..people may actually start to believe the stuff we spread around

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