Tight ends like Chicago's Martellus Bennett and Kansas City's Travis Kelce figure to play a big role in Sunday's meeting.
The struggling Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) play host to the Chicago Bears (1-3) when the two teams meet at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
Jay Cutler led his offense down the field in a last-second victory last week. But his penchant for turnovers and fumbles can’t be overlooked as the Bears seek to win their second straight game. Neither can head coach John Fox’s porous defense.
For all its talent, the Chiefs’ defense has been equally as porous. They’ll seek to right the ship behind tested pass rushers like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. If that doesn’t work, quarterback Alex Smith and Co. could be game for a shootout.
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Here are three keys to the game for both the Bears and Chiefs:
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1.Keep targeting Martellus Bennett
The Bears finally found the winning formula in Week 4, and it came in the form of quarterback Jay Cutler’s connection with tight end Martellus Bennett. Cutler targeted Bennett a season-high 13 times, as the 6-foot-6, 273-pound pass-catcher hauled in 11 balls for 83 yards. The Bears should attack Kansas City’s 29th-ranked defense in the same fashion, with Cutler throwing Bennett’s way at least 10 times.
2. Push Pernell McPhee to get after the passer
Chicago is getting some serious pass-rush production out of Pernell McPhee. The blooming outside linebacker brought the heat two weeks ago and registered two sacks against Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Last week against the Raiders, McPhee led the team with eight tackles and recorded his first career interception. No team has allowed more sacks than the Chiefs have through four games (19); McPhee should have a field day.
3. Don’t lose sight of Jamaal Charles
The Bears are still a project on defense, so communication issues are bound to arise. But if there’s one player Vic Fangio’s unit needs to watch on every single play, it’s running back Jamaal Charles. Kansas City’s offense is powered by Charles, who’s the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher with 306 yards (5.2 yards per carry) through four games. He can also hurt the Bears as a pass-catcher, so Chicago’s young linebackers and defensive backs must be on high alert.
1. Just hand it off to Charles in the red zone
Charles has been critical of the Chiefs’ coaching staff in recent weeks. He should start with his own workload; No. 25 had 11 carries in back-to-back losing weeks. That’s not nearly enough for a limited Chiefs offense.
2. Run Travis Kelce down the seam
The Bears don’t have an athlete in their secondary who can match Kelce’s blend of size and speed. He’s averaging seven targets and 73 yards over four games, but his production has dipped since a breakout game in Week 1. It’s time to use the tight end like the weapon he is.
3. Send the house against Cutler
The Chiefs defense isn’t particularly adept at stopping opposing quarterbacks in 2015. They’ll attempt to take matters into their own hands on Sunday, especially against a turnover-prone player like Cutler. Houston and Co. should hope for plenty of big-play opportunities.