By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - The Chicago Bears are banged-up, and the Seattle Seahawks have their issues.
It hasn't been the easiest week for either team, with one shaking off a rash of injuries and the other facing the prospect of losing two key players to suspensions related to performance-enhancing drugs.
Yet here they are, set to face off Sunday at Soldier Field in a matchup that has big implications for both teams.
A game ahead of Green Bay, the Bears (8-3) are trying to maintain their lead in the NFC North after losing several players while beating Minnesota last week.
The Seahawks (6-5) are trying to win on the road, where they're 1-5, and strengthen their postseason hopes while dealing with one major distraction.
Starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing possible suspensions for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Seahawks expect to have them for this week's game.
"We're just moving along like we have been," coach Pete Carroll said. "There's nothing really to comment on from our end. It's nice to have our health."
On that end, the Bears are probably envious.
They got quarterback Jay Cutler back last week from a one-game absence because of a concussion, only to see three standouts plus two starting guards leave the game.
Record-setting return specialist and receiver Devin Hester suffered a concussion.
Running back Matt Forte and cornerback Charles Tillman left with ankle injuries, and as if losing those three wasn't enough, guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer exited with knee injuries.
Things were so bad that offensive coordinator Mike Tice joked, "Thought I was going to have to suit up on Sunday."
"It could've been worse," he said, referring to the injuries.
Louis is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he suffered on a blind-side hit to the head from Jared Allen as the Vikings' Antoine Winfield returned an interception.
The Bears have ruled out Hester and Spencer for this game.
Forte and Briggs said they expect to play this week. They practiced Thursday on a limited basis, as did Tillman.
The offensive line is where things get dicey. The injuries to Louis and Spencer came on the heels of a shake-up following an ugly performance at San Francisco the previous week.
Spencer, who started the first two games, was back in the lineup at left guard after Chilo Rachal left the team during the week. If he's out, Edwin Williams could get the nod.
With Louis' injury, Gabe Carimi was forced to play right guard for the first time after being replaced as the starting right tackle by Jonathan Scott, and is expected to get the call there this week.
The Bears also brought in former Pro Bowl lineman Andre Gurode to give them more depth in the trenches.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, could also be without defensive end Red Bryant. A key run-stopper, he's been bothered by a foot issue.
But the subplots aren't limited to the injuries and possible punishments.
There's Chicago's Brandon Marshall going up against a team with two big, physical cornerbacks in the 6-foot-4 Browner and the 6-3 Sherman. He might even see some one-on-one coverage.
"Whenever you get a chance to play a little one on one, it's exciting," said Marshall, fifth in the league with 1,017 yards receiving. "I've been watching film and I saw what they did against Calvin (Johnson) and Larry (Fitzgerald), they threw some (cover) 2 in there, but for the most part they do what they do. I'm excited about that."
The Seahawks had some success against Fitzgerald (four catches for 63 yards) in a season-opening loss to Arizona and against Johnson (46 yards on three receptions) in a loss to Detroit on Oct. 28.
They also limited Steve Smith to 40 yards on four receptions in their lone road win at Carolina in early October, but allowed Wes Welker to go off for 138 yards the following week when they beat New England.
Then, there's the Bears' defense having to contend with another top-tier running back, Marshawn Lynch, after going against Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Houston's Arian Foster, San Francisco's Frank Gore and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson – who they'll meet again next week – the past four games.
And there's rookie Russell Wilson, tops among rookies with 17 touchdown passes, staring at one of the league's stingiest defenses. Then again, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick picked apart the Monsters of the Midway in his first career start.
"Our offense is similar but a little bit different," Wilson said. "Some of their formations that they run are a little bit different than ours. But I just think he took advantage of the game-altering plays. When things were there, he capitalized on the throws."
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