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Defensive Breakdown

The Bears run a 3-4 defense under new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano. They primarily use Cover 3, Man Free, and 2 Man coverage schemes, and allow their corners to play on one side of the field instead of shadowing a certain player. Chicago will mix in some twists and Slot blitzes to get added pressure. Their entire defense shows good pursuit to the ball, with quick linebackers to stretch plays out sideline-to-sideline, and a solid secondary unit that isn’t afraid to step up and make tackles.

The strength of this defense normally lies in its front 7, with Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd setting the edge and providing a strong pass rush, the defensive line being able to occupy blocks, letting the inside linebackers make plays, and 2 inside linebackers that make quick reads and get to the football fast. Unfortunately for Chicago, the injury bug has bitten some of their better front 7 defenders. Inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan have both been lost for the season, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will miss the game with an elbow injury he suffered last week. Even Khalil Mack seems to have taken a step back from his dominant 2018 season.

The secondary is a solid unit for the Bears. They aren’t dominant by any means, but they are a good group that doesn’t make many mistakes. Safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson will roam all over the field, alternating between playing in the box and playing more of a centerfield, single high role. Corners Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara aren’t flashy, but they find a way to get the job done. Nickelback Buster Skrine brings his 9 years of experience and aggressive play to help round out the unit.

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Beating The Defense

The Chiefs have to make a concerted effort to slow down Mack by lining a flexed tight end up to his side, or bringing the Slot receiver in tighter to the formation, and using those players to chip him. They can also use the running back to provide some assistance to the tackle if needed. If Mack or Floyd lines up as a defensive tackle instead of as the outside linebacker, the offensive line can expect the Bears to run a twist.

With the Bears playing a lot of Man concepts, the Chiefs can take advantage by running pick plays to free up the receivers. Chicago has had some issues with stacked or bunched receivers, occasionally letting a receiver run wide open while mistakenly double covering another player. Kansas City has to test out Amukamara’s hurt hamstring early, getting him to try to chase Tyreek Hill down the sidelines. They can also use Hill’s speed to beat Skrine in the Slot, running a deep Over route to not allow the safety to just sit over the top of him. Hill and the gang should be able to win regular against the soft zone coverage the Bears play, using slants and in breaking routes against the outside technique of the corners. The Kansas City receivers can win on any breaking route by getting the cornerbacks to open their hips, then breaking the route away from where the corner opened up to, cutting into their blind spot and forcing them to speed turn and find the receiver.

If the Chiefs can keep the safeties lined up wide when they are in 2 Man, Travis Kelce can feast with Post routes over the middle. Kelce should also be the featured matchup if Floyd or Mack is asked to cover from their linebacker positions. Kansas City needs to test inside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis’ ability to process the running backs out of the backfield, and get in position to cover them.

For the run game, the Chiefs need to run right at the Bears front, or use misdirection to get the aggressive linebackers flowing in the wrong direction. Running plays that stretch to the sidelines will generally not go in favor of the Chiefs unless it is a quick hitting off tackle run like a jet sweep.