Saturday is the big day: the all-important third preseason game.
Known as the dress rehearsal game, fans and media alike look forward to the third preseason game because it’s the closest to a regular season game. The starters play the longest and there is actually a little bit of actual game planning.
So the Saturday meeting between the Chiefs and the Bears will be closely watched. Hopefully the Bears will continue to build off their strong performance against New England last week and come out strong against the Chiefs.
Let’s get to everything to know about the game:
Kansas City Chiefs
Last season: 11-5, second place finish in the AFC West and a Wild Card berth.
Last week: 21-20 loss to the LA Rams. The starting unit scored both their TDs and they scored all of their points in the first half.
Last time we met: Week 5 last season, the Bears scored 12 fourth quarter points to complete a dramatic come-from-behind wind at Arrowhead Stadium to win 18-17. Jay Cutler threw two TD passes in the final 3:05 of the game to win it.
All-time the Bears are 7-5 against the Chiefs in the regular season.
Offense: The Chiefs finished 2015 ranked 27th in yards per game but ninth in points per game. Alex Smith hardly causes panic in opposing defenses but he’s a model of consistency and efficiency. It helps that he has potent targets in TE Travis Kelce and WR Jeremy Maclin. Jamaal Charles will be back this season but he only just began working out and will not face the Bears.
Defense: Their defense ranked seventh in yards allowed and third in points per game. The Chiefs racked up 47 sacks, good for fourth in the league. That unit is headed up by great linebacking corps Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson. They also have All-Pro S Eric Berry and defensive rookie of the year Marcus Peters. Houston, Hali and Berry are also unlikely to face Chicago.
What to watch for: Starting units. This is the last fans will see of any player worth a damn as the fourth preseason game is a final evaluation before cuts. The Bears have a long, long list of injured players of their own so it’s a toss up as to who will be available. Watch for the how the offensive line manages against Houston, Johnson, Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard and Dee Ford. Keep an eye on how Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery cope with Peters and the Chiefs secondary.
On the other side of the ball, see if the Bears have any CB depth that can hang with Maclin or Kelce. Chicago’s front seven have been their strength so far and they are going to be the strongest unit once again, so can they pressure Smith?
Key stat: The Chiefs had the second-most interceptions last season. Cutler avoided picks in last season’s game with a weaker WR corps than he will have Saturday.
What will you be watching for Saturday?