KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Sunday Night Football matchup in Chicago provides the Kansas City Chiefs with the chance to send a message to the nation and the rest of the NFL.
That message — the Chiefs are contenders who should not be taken lightly — because prime-time games set the agenda for national media and football fans alike.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid and company will face a similar version of their offense.
Bears coach Matt Nagy runs variations of the Chiefs’ 2017 offense with Alex Smith, but the Windy City version lacks the same skill players to do it.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is significantly less accurate than Smith.
Running back David Montgomery tries to fill the role of Kareem Hunt, but lacks in the dynamic playmaking ability.
Tarik Cohen runs the motions that speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill does in the Chiefs offense and can be a threat in the backfield.
Anthony Miller is a dynamic receiver, but the Bears though lack an athletic tight end to truly threaten opponents.
Defensively, Chuck Pagano has taken over Chicago’s defense after Vic Fangio left to become the Denver Broncos head coach, and the defense lost some of its discipline with the changing of the guard.
Here are some key areas for the Chiefs to attack on Sunday night:
1. Contain Trubisky, collapse pocket
Trubisky likes to scramble out of the pocket and buy himself time to make a play or run for the first down. He finds rhythm in his overall game by making plays with his legs.
When he isn't allowed to do that, it leads to inaccurate passes, interceptions, sacks and general indecision.
The Chiefs will benefit from a controlled rush of the quarterback. It is the key to taking away Trubisky's confidence passing the football.
He will drop his eyes when he feels the pocket collapsing on him and looks for an exit. Once he has become uncomfortable in the pocket, he will rush his throwing mechanics, which leads to increasing inaccuracy.
Trubisky doesn't need to be hit; he just needs to clock in his head speed up combined with his ability to scramble being taken away.
Left tackle Charles Leno Jr., left guard James Daniels and right guard Rashaad Coward all can be beaten on both shoulders and with bull rushes when isolated one-on-one.
2. Account for Miller, Cohen
The Chiefs should be able to pressure Trubisky with four rushers on any given play. The difference-makers for the Bears’ offense are Miller and Cohen.
Cohen is a threat in the flats, on screens and jet sweeps.
Miller is their most explosive receiver, so the Chiefs would be wise to disrupt his releases at the line of scrimmage.
Kansas City should be able to run a significant amount of zone coverage if the rush is getting to Trubisky, but it will be important to keep Cohen and Miller in check until his timer has been sped up.
3. Use play-action, challenge Bears vertically
The Bears’ weakness in coverage stems from their aggressiveness and susceptibility for crashing on the run fake.
Chicago’s cornerbacks lack top-end speed when receivers get free releases off the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs can challenge the Bears vertically, similar to their second quarter against the Raiders in week two, especially if the safeties are occupied with underneath routes or in single-high coverage.
Play-action fakes will create voids in the middle of the defense on the intermediate routes.
4. Use ‘12’ personnel for the edge
The Chiefs should find success running on the edge and via cutback lanes with two-tight-end sets on the same side.
The Bears consistently give up the edge out of this matchup, because their linebackers seem to get caught up in traffic when the edge is sealed.
Using the keys above can help the Chiefs make the necessary statement on primetime and serve notice to the rest of the AFC heading into the playoffs.
Be sure to tune in to 41 Action News for our special pregame special at 5 p.m. on Sunday followed by the Chiefs and Bears on Sunday Night Football at 7:20 p.m.
Nick Jacobs can be found on Twitter:@Jacobs71. You can also download the weekly 4th and 1 podcast on Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify and Stitcher.