Football

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RECORDS: Chiefs 10-4 @ Bears 7-7

KICKOFF: 7:15 pm

TV: NBC 

I’m sure you all read that headline and thought, “please, no, not a post about why this team would be Super Bowl bound with Patrick Mahomes“. Guess what? I WOULD NEVER.

No, this is about what could have been for a team that looked on the cusp of becoming NFC contenders a scant 11 months ago crashing and burning into the mess you and I have been subjected to for the better part of the last four months. And while there were some pretty tall expectations, it’s reasonable to expect minimal changes within the organization and coaching staff. Some might clamor for major changes, but Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy, Chuck Pagano and most of the other coaches will remain for the job of cleaning up this mess of a campaign, which arguably starts this week.

The first test is how to get your team up and motivated for a meaningless game in late December, one that’s played a mere week after your slim playoff hopes ended at the two-yard line as time expired against the most hated of rivals. The Bears will need to find that energy as they host the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, a game that Mahomes and Andy Reid desperately need to win if they’re to secure a bye for what looks to be a loaded AFC playoff field.

The Chiefs enter playing possibly their best defensive football of Reid’s tenure. The uptick on that side of the ball coincides with a 5-1 stretch, seeing KC secure their fourth consecutive AFC West title. The Chiefs have held opponents to 212 passing yards or less in five of six games during this streak, helping them to get into the top team passing defenses in the league overall for the year. They will have a true test this week, though, as Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has averaged over 295 yards passing the last four weeks and gone over 330 yards twice. Mitch has been using his legs to greater effect as well, something KC hasn’t really had to deal with in games against the likes of Drew Lock, Derek Carr, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.

The non-existent Bears rushing game failed to show up much against a near-league worst Packers side in Green Bay, so while the Chiefs rank near the bottom of the league in rushing yards against at 130+/game they are more likely to see that number improve than be gashed for worse. Unless, of course, Mitch runs wild like he did against Dallas on TNF a few weeks ago. Mitch is still working on his decision making, and what he does with the RPO all night will go a long way to determining if KC has any issues trying to get closer to that bye week. it’d certainly be nice to see Nagy and staff try some new things, maybe moving the line in different ways or using more misdirection/creativity to get David Montgomery some confidence in a lost rookie campaign.

Mahomes comes in seeing his otherworldly number from 2018 deflated a bit (he’s missed two+ games to injury), but the third-year QB is still making defenses pay when they give him any kind of window. Mahomes is top five in yards/game (300.5), has 23 TD against four INT in 12 games and comes in at 2nd and 6th in QBR and Passing Rating, respectively. He can and will beat you deep to Tyreek Hill (who will also simply just beat you, but only if you’re under 10 years old or female) or Mecole Hardman, or he’ll slowly kill you by feeding monster TE Travis Kelce or any one of the RBBC that seemingly 1) can all catch out of the backfield and catch well and 2) go for allll the YAC. LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Spencer Ware…it really doesn’t matter. Reid plugs and plays at will and somehow employs backs that can do it all…it’s called a SCHEME,,, folks.

The Bears young stand ins at ILB (Nick Kwiatkoski, Kevin Pierre-Louis) and the defensive backfield (Kevin Toliver, Deon Bush) will all be tested over and over by these weapons and almost assuredly beaten unless the defensive front can create pressure – something that’s been missing since Week 1 for the Bears. Can they find some way to get pressure on Mahomes to help out their youthful next men up? Maybe Pagano has some new ideas for Khalil Mack and Co. after failing all year to get any sustained pressure.

The Bears constant is that they are inconsistent, including during this late 3-1 run to respectability. A loss here is expected, but more than wins or losses these last two weeks should be dedicated to continued learning experiences and trying any and everything to see what they’ve got moving forward. Everything should be on the table, anyone with questions should be thrown into the fire. Who knows, maybe the apprentice will catch the master and score an upset while having a little fun along the way (did you know Nagy is a Reid disciple????)

Prediction: Chiefs 38, Bears 29

Football

“This week, please don’t compare Mitch Trubisky to Patrick Mahomes. We are more than happy with the guy we got. Development takes time. Mitch’s story hasn’t even begun to be written yet. I would do it all over again exactly the same way.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Ryan Pace (Probably)

Do you remember, years ago, when the Bears or Blackhawks were terrible and the only reason you would go to games was because you wanted to watch the opponent’s best player? Well guess what, this is exactly what the Bears season has become.

The KC MasterChiefs come to town led by arguably the league’s most important player, Patrick Mahomes. The KC QB has been slowed somewhat by a knee injury this season, but the numbers are still very impressive; maybe not MVP-worthy, but robust no less. Most impressive is the QB’s learning curve in regards to taking care of the football. Mahomes has thrown four interceptions this season, second only to Aaron Rodgers. The importance of ball security cannot be stressed hard enough, and because of this, Patrick Mahomes (learning from Andy Reid) and the Chiefs will continue to be relevant in this league for a long, long time.

However, as Mitch Trubisky has shown, ball security alone doesn’t equate to NFL success. For all of the criticism Trubisky receives, you can’t overlook the great job he does of limiting his turnovers. The difference is Mahomes simply does so much more. The Chiefs entire offense involves a heavy reliance on Mahomes’ athleticism; meaning their playbook is full of designed bootlegs, straight QB runs, and QB RPOs. The hardest thing for me to understand is that Trubisky is actually more physically talented than Mahomes, so why is Matt Nagy not taking advantage of this? The new NFL is all about athletic QBs who are making plays with their feet. It’s becoming more about guys like:

  • Lamar Jackson (1,103 Rush Yards, 6.9 Yards / Carry)
  • Josh Allen (4.6 Rush Yards / Carry, 9 Rush TDs)
  • Deshaun Watson (5.0 Rush Yards/ Carry, 7 TDs)

Notice I made no mention of Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray who all can make plays outside of the pocket by design or improvising.

Running aside, then digging deeper into Patrick Mahomes’ passing tendencies, I was shocked to see how much the QB relies on throws to the left side of the field. This has been evident throughout the season, but no more so than two weeks ago against the Patriots:

As you can see, against a turnover forcing machine that is the 2019 New England Patriots, only 10 of Mahomes 40 pass attempts went outside the right hash, where more than double that amount went to the left side. What you can also see from the Chiefs offense is a reliance on throws behind the line of scrimmage and within 10 yards of the LOS.

Is this the type of throw chart we can expect against the Bears? Well, you very well may get a game like this:

Or maybe one like this:

Scary huh?

Now, don’t get me wrong, from a viewers perspective, I would love to see a game like the two above. I just don’t want it necessarily to be against the Bears. I think the home teams give a shit level will be very low on Sunday and in an effort to protect some guys from further injury as well as increase the team’s chances of a more preferred draft position in the later rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mahomes went off for something like 30-35 for 420 and three TDs against a home team that hasn’t earned your trust this entire season.

Chiefs 35, Bears 10