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Keys to the Game

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Keys to the Game: 3 things that will help Bears beat Chiefs

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

The Bears (0-2) visit the Chiefs (1-1) Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Here are three things that should increase their chances of winning the game:

(1) Become more consistent on offense.

The Bears demonstrated what they're capable of in last Sunday's 27-17 loss in Tampa when they marched 75 and 90 yards for touchdowns. The first TD came on their initial drive and the second cut the deficit to 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Between those two possessions, however, the offense failed to get into the end zone on six drives that resulted in a field goal and five punts.

The key to success Sunday in Kansas City could be improved production on the first play of every possession. Against the Buccaneers, the Bears gained 40 yards on the first plays of their two TD drives—on Justin Fields' completions of 33 yards to DJ Moore and seven yards to Cole Kmet. On the aforementioned possessions that didn't end in the end zone, they totaled seven yards on six plays.

"You've got to have positive plays to start a drive," Kmet said. "Whether it's a 4- or 5-yard gain on a run play or just a short completion, you start progressing forward and maybe hit a chunk play here and there. We were doing a good job of that, and we need more of that. Just starting off fast on drives is huge for us."

It won't be easy against the defending Super Bowl champions on the road.

"It's Arrowhead Stadium," said center Lucas Patrick. "I'm not going to say it's not loud. It is loud. But those are the types of challenges you can grow from, you can learn from because it's as hard as it's going to get. It's a very good front, it's fast, athletic linebackers, it's a pressure defense. So we've got to bring our 'A' game."

(2) Establish a running game.

The Bears led the NFL in rushing last season, averaging 177.3 yards per game. Entering Week 3 this year, they ranked 22nd in the league, averaging 94.5 yards.

Asked about establishing the run Sunday against the Chiefs, Patrick said: "It's important in every game. The running game can help you win the time of possession battle. It can help you win the hidden yardage battle, and it can help the defense because they're not playing as much because when you're running the ball, you're chewing clock, being effective, throwing body blows."

After rushing for 1,143 yards last season—the second most by a quarterback in NFL history—Fields has generated only 62 yards on the ground in two games this year, including just three yards last Sunday in Tampa. On Wednesday, the third-year pro told reporters he felt like he played "robotic" and vowed to think less and rely more on his instincts moving forward, which could translate into more yards on scrambles.

The Bears also could lean on their running backs, who've produced 130 yards on 30 carries in the first two games. Asked about establishing the run, Kmet said: "That's huge. That's the quarterback's best friend. That's one thing I think we want to get going here and one thing that was a big part of our identity last year. We want to be a physical football team and how you do that is you've got to execute the run game. We definitely want to get that rolling, and that will help Justin a lot, for sure."

The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Sunday's Week 3 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

(3) Don't allow Patrick Mahomes to have a monster game.

The defense faces a daunting task against the two-time NFL MVP, who has led the Chiefs to two Super Bowl championships in the last three seasons. In seven seasons with Kansas City, he has compiled a 65-17 record as a starter and thrown for 24,772 yards with 196 touchdowns, 51 interceptions and a 105.2 passer rating.

"He's the best quarterback in the league," said Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. "Dynamic. He can make every throw, so I'm definitely looking forward to that challenge, him and those receivers. We know that they're going to throw the ball. We know what they're going to do, so it's going to be a wonderful challenge."

Mahomes is known for his ability to extend plays, buying time to find open receivers.

"You've got to play disciplined defense," said Bears defensive passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Jon Hoke. "You've got to be disciplined in coverage. He makes so many off-schedule plays. He's talented that way. He's going to move in the pocket, so if you're in a coverage situation where you have to go match a guy, then you have to be extremely disciplined with your eyes on who you're covering. Every play seems like it turns like that. It's crazy, but it's how they operate and they operate really, really well."

It goes without saying that the Bears must generate consistent pressure on Mahomes, particularly from their front four. After registering only one sack in the season opener against the Packers, the defense produced more pressure last Sunday versus the Buccaneers but was unable to record any sacks.

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