Three keys and a prediction: Pounding the ball on the ground is the Bears' best chance to beat the Chiefs

Cam Ellis

Run the ball. But like, really run the ball. 

I promise that I'm not just copy-and-pasting this every week. Some facts about the Chiefs' defense, to start: They rank sixth in passing DVOA and 30th in rushing DVOA. Per Pro Football Focus, only the Dolphins (3-11) and Panthers (5-9) have lower grades against the run than Kansas City (60.1). The Chiefs are allowing 131.6 yards per game on the ground, which is the seventh-worst in football. Teams are averaging five yards per rush against them, a mark the Bears have hit only once this season: in the Week 2 win over Denver. Keeping the Chiefs' offense off the field is half the battle, and there's no better way to do that than carving up big chunks of clock on the ground. Half of the Chiefs' losses have come when other team runs the ball 30+ times against them; the Bears are 2-1 when they hit that number (that Chargers loss will haunt them forever). Run the ball! 

Too Fast, Too Furious 

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Everyone seems concerned that the Bears could come out on Sunday night and put together an apathetic effort, but I actually think it'll be the other way around. In fact, the Bears would be smart to put some extra emphasis on not being too amped up against the Chiefs. All the narrative meat is there: Matt Nagy vs. Andy Reid, Mitch Trubisky vs. Pat Mahomes, the Bears' first "meaningless" game, etc. All in primetime. The Bears have had their issues with The Moment at times throughout this season, and this is their last chance to save some face in front of a national audience. With so much emphasis spent this season on their first-drive woes and not playing from behind, you wonder if the Bears will be tempted to try and set the pace early – though maybe they shouldn't. Do you really want to get into a track race with that offense? 

Play to win … just do it with the guys you need to make up your mind on. 

Ryan Pace has his hands full this offseason. Just within the current personnel, he needs to: 

  • Figure out what to do about his inside linebackers. Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all unrestricted free agents.

  • Make the tough Kyle Long decision. Then figure out if they can find better depth than Ted Larsen (UFA), Cornelius Lucas (UFA) and Rashaad Coward (RFA). 

  • Decide if Nick Williams (UFA) and Roy Robertson-Harris (RFA) are worth the raises the market will give them. 

  • Address the safety position with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush, Sherrick McManis and DeAndre Houston-Carson all unrestricted free agents. 

Now, presumably, Bears brass is well on the way to figuring all of this out already, but if that means seeing less of the starters over the final two games, so be it. Nagy said this week that the plan is to play as if nothing has changed, but then both Akiem Hicks and Prince Amukamara were listed as questionable on the Bears' official game status report -- after being full participants in practice during the week. There might be some preseason vibes headed our way, especially if the Bears are down early.

Prediction: Chiefs 30, Bears 20

The Bears were a trendy upset pick last week, and you saw how that went. I think it'll stay close through the first half or so, but the Chiefs' offense is relentless. 

Three keys and a prediction: Pounding the ball on the ground is the Bears' best chance to beat the Chiefs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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