Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of BearReport.com and Nick Athan of WarpaintIllustrated.com, break down Sunday's game between the Bears and Chiefs at Soldier Field in Chicago. We'll finish this three-part series with some matchups to watch, game scenarios, and final predictions.

Matchup to watch when the Chiefs are on offense:
Kansas City's interior line vs. Chicago's defensive tackles
Last week against Houston, the Chiefs offensive line did their best to wear down the interior of the Texans young-but-talented defensive line. It worked in the first quarter, as the Chiefs ran the ball and threw short passes in a drive that took nearly nine minutes. The problem was the team didn't use Larry Johnson inside the red zone, ultimately attempting a field goal that was wide right and also ended the one-game stay of rookie kicker Justin Medlock.

Still, outside of that drive, the interior of the Chiefs line, led by All-Pro guard Brian Waters, center Casey Wiegmann and veteran guard John Welbourn, didn't exactly play all that well. Waters was stellar, but the other two ends of the tripod struggled. The problem is that the Chiefs have an undersized center, and that hurts them if they want to unleash their power running game on Sunday against arguably the best defense in the NFC.

The good news for Chiefs fans is the fact the Bears lost stud defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek for the season, which bodes well for the interior of the Chiefs offensive line. This was once the strength of this football team, but it is no longer and if the Chiefs are going to have any success on the ground, they'll need to run in the direction of Dvoracek's replacement, Darwin Walker. He's a backup, technically, and that's good news for the Chiefs. But that still might not be enough because even if Johnson and Co. get past that defensive line, they'll have to deal with the likes of linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Ouch.

Matchup to watch when the Chiefs are on defense:
DT Alfonso Boone vs. his former team
This is where it gets fun for Kansas City. Just like when the Chiefs have the ball on offense, this game will be won up front. The bonus for the guys in red this week is that they'll have a very motivated former Bear ready to wreak havoc on his old team.

Defensive end Alfonso Boone returns to the city he called home for the last four NFL seasons. If anyone knows the cracks in the Bears offensive line, it's Boone. He played great last week against the Texans. In fact, late in the second quarter, he made back-to-back plays that gave Chiefs fans hope that the interior of the defensive line that was so bad the last four years had turned a corner.

Boone was hurt in the preseason and played only the last two games. But last Sunday, he sacked quarterback Matt Schaub and stuffed running back Ahman Green behind the line of scrimmage. That type of defensive penetration is something the Chiefs have the ability to do now, and that means the ends and linebackers can be freer to attack by blitzing Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. And that's the key for this entire defense on Sunday.

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on offense:
WR Bernard Berrian vs. CBs Ty Law and Patrick Surtain
Berrian was on the verge of a breakout season a year ago before a midseason injury slowed his progress, but he's looked sensational since the first day of camp and is on the verge of his first 1,000-yard season in the NFL. While the Bears didn't do very much on offense in Week 1 against San Diego, Berrian led the team with 5 receptions for 83 yards and appeared to be getting open at will. He'll face a tough test on Sunday against one of the better cornerback combinations in all of football, so if he wants to prove that he's Grossman's No. 1 target and a potential Pro-Bowl talent, he'll have to get the job done against the best of the best.

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
S Adam Archuleta vs. TE Tony Gonzalez
The Bears did an incredible job of shutting down a Chargers offense that led the league in scoring last season, but they simply had no answer for TE Antonio Gates in the middle of the field. Archuleta made his presence felt right away around the line of scrimmage and played very well in run support against LaDainian Tomlinson, but he showed why he struggled so much in Washington a year ago when trying to contain Gates in open space. Gonzalez may not be the player he used to be and doesn't have Trent Green throwing him the ball anymore, but he's still Damon Huard's best bet in the passing game and could be a mismatch for Archuleta that the Chiefs can exploit.


S Adam Archuleta and TE Tony Gonzalez (Getty Images)

The Chiefs will win this game if ...
It's pretty simple for Kansas City. The goal is to put together four long drives in each quarter. The second goal is to score on each of them even if they have to settle for four field goals by new kicker Dave Rayner, who was signed on Monday.

The Chiefs must convert third downs, and if Huard can do that and wear down the Bears defense, this game could go to the Chiefs. Of course, Huard has to try and complete some long passes down the field a couple of times in the game just to keep the Bears defense honest.

If that happens and LJ can shake off the rust from sitting out most of the preseason, then Kansas City can win this game – especially if Johnson and backup Michael Bennett can rush for over 130 yards.

The Chiefs will lose this game if ...
They let Grossman beat them. Kansas City is solid against the run and has a trio of linebackers that can make plays. However, Grossman is also the type of quarterback that the Chiefs generally struggle with – especially on the road. Thus, I would not be surprised to see Grossman put up 200-plus yards in passing against the Chiefs defense.

The offense is one thing but, that aside, the Bears defense is a whole new ballgame. Like I said, talent is one thing, but this defense has trust and I can't see the offense getting too many open spaces to run or throw the ball. The Chiefs offense struggled last week when they got behind the Texans. If Chicago's defense can create a short field for its own offense, then this might be a long afternoon for the Chiefs.

The Bears will win this game if ...
Just like they needed last week against Tomlinson and San Diego, Cedric Benson must outrush Johnson. Benson's first career NFL start was quite lackluster as he racked up only 42 yards on 19 carries, plus he dropped a pass out of the backfield and lost a fumble. Grossman gets all the credit and all the blame based on how the offense performs, but he will be severely hamstrung once again if his running game doesn't start moving the chains and the putting him in manageable down-and-distance situations.

The Bears will lose this game if ...
The offensive line plays as poorly as it did in Week 1 against the Chargers. Not only did Olin Kreutz and Co. fail to open holes for Benson on the ground, but Grossman was subjected to constant pressure and took way too may big hits. Ruben Brown missed some practice time this week with a sore shoulder, but they'll need him operating at full capacity because Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham knows what he's doing on the other sideline.

FINAL PREDICTIONS

Nick Athan:
You could see that I don't hold much hope for the Chiefs to win this game. However, I'll say this. Exactly one year ago, the Chiefs lost their season-opener to the Cincinnati Bengals. They also lost Green, their starting quarterback.

In Week 2, the Chiefs had to travel to Denver and played against a better team on both sides of the ball. They went into overtime tied 6-6 before losing on a Jason Elam game-winner in the extra session. But the Chiefs could have and should have won that game because they gave up the ball twice in Broncos territory.

With four giveaways against the Texans, it's possible that the Chiefs could surpass that number this week if the Bears defense comes into this game with venom in their eyes after losing to the Chargers last week ...
BEARS 9, CHIEFS 6

John Crist: No question about it, the Chiefs looked like a bad football team against a Texans squad that's not expected to be very good either. We're only one week into the regular season, but there is a lot of pressure on the Bears after the injuries they suffered in San Diego and all the questions circulating around Grossman and Benson right now. The defense could have a field day against a Kansas City offense that has been stuck in neutral since the preseason, and Grossman should be able to make a few big plays in the passing game to help soften things up for Benson ...
BEARS 23, CHIEFS 10

To go back and read Part I of Behind Enemy Lines, Click Here. For Part II, Click Here.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. Nick Athan is the Publisher of WarpaintIllustrated.com.

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