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SportsMonday: Shell-Shocked

It still didn't matter. Let's be clear about that.

No matter what happened in Seattle late last week, the mantra remains the same: Preseason games do, not, matter.

Of course in this case, saying it makes a Bears fan feel like a sucker. And that's because their team could not possibly have made a bigger fool of itself than it did in the 34-6 loss to the Seahawks that could have been 60-something to whatever.

So it was a terrible game and watching it was a terrible waste of time. But that doesn't mean the coming regular season will be terrible for the Bears. And there are several factors to consider regarding last week's' game that were utterly outside the Bears' control. Even those who absolutely refuse to downplay the importance of exhibition games have to acknowledge that:

* Seattle coach Pete Carroll cares more about preseason games than any other coach in the NFL. It was mentioned on the broadcast that Carroll's team has lost only one preseason game during his most recent run at the helm and a quick check shows the Seahawks went 4-0 in the preseason in 2012, 4-0 in 2013 and are 2-1 so far this time around.

(Quick side note - if people want to prove they are degenerate gamblers, the way to do it is to wager on preseason football games. But if you don't care about how the outside world perceives you, then by all means get some money down on Seattle in the final week of the exhibition season. Yes, at this point Seattle is favored by far more in these games than the usual three points or less point-spread that is out there on the average preseason game. But the spread wasn't 28 last week.)

* Right now the Seahawks might have the biggest home-field advantage in all of sports in all the world. They designed that goofy looking Century Link Field they call home to amplify the noise beyond anything previously experienced, and it is working. What I will remember most about last week's game was the first half of the third quarter. The Seahawks led by four-plus scores in a meaningless exhibition game and at least a portion of the fans were still up and screaming and the backup Bear offense couldn't handle it. Jordan Palmer earned not one but two delay-of-game penalties. It is a killer for Palmer because apparently that was the end of his shot at the back-up quarterback job. But I suppose that's just the way it goes in the brutal NFL.

At this point, teams only have a chance against the Seahawks in Seattle if they score early and discourage the crowd at least a little bit. That's why if we could go back and change one thing about that game, it would have been the pass from Jay Cutler to Alshon Jeffery at the end of the Bears' first possession. Of course, if Jeffery hadn't been so weak with a touchdown pass that was right there in his giant hands before he allowed it to be ripped out by the Seahawk DB, the Bears still would have only been tied 7-7 with the home team. And the way their defense was playing, it didn't matter what the offense did. But it would have been fascinating to see if the crowd noise would have been diminished at least a little.

* The Seahawks have a massive advantage right now in terms of the salary cap - Russell Wilson is still in only his third year of his rookie contract. He makes a tiny, tiny fraction of the dollars that his peers in the really good NFL quarterback club make. Hell, he makes a tiny, tiny fraction of the dollars the quarterbacks make in the mediocre quarterbacks club (sorry Jay, but you're still in there along with Andy Dalton and the rest - lead the team to a winning record this year and then you can get back to me). And that enables the Seahawks to spend big on all sorts of players at just about all other positions.

When it comes time to pay Wilson (the rookie deal runs out at the end of the season after this one), especially if he leads the Seahawks to another great season this year and/or next, you do have to wonder, how much will be enough? His agent will come into that negotiation believing his still quite young client is worth far more than any other player in the league. It will be fascinating to watch.

Despite all these happy tidings for Seahawk fans, there is one thing that has to give them at least a little indigestion: Carroll is on a ridiculous roll right now that will not last forever. If he keeps doing incredibly stupid things like having Wilson come out to play more quarterback in the second half last week despite a 31-0 lead, he will pay a price in terms of a player suffering a critical injury when he never should have been on the field. That is just a fact.

Still, if you haven't deduced it by now, my pick for the coming season's Super Bowl is for the Seahawks to pull off the ever-more rare re-peat. I suppose I should add in a line with the usual reservations, i.e., "teams almost never repeat anymore . . . negative stuff is sure to come up, blah, blah, blah." But the Seahawks have way more talent than everyone else and they have an elite quarterback and an elite defense.

Sorry, shell-shocked Bears fans, but the road to a championship goes through Century Link Field.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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