Chiefs vs. Bears game preview: Six storylines to follow

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 25: Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears (L) talks with head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs before a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 25: Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears (L) talks with head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs before a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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(Chiefs) CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 27: Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs is brought down by Chris Prosinski #31 of the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs continue the pivotal part of their schedule Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. What storylines should fans know headed into the game?

Is it just me, or does this team seem like they are peaking at just the right time. For the last several seasons, the Kansa City Chiefs have opened the season hotter than arguably any other team. Unfortunately, they’ve started hot but then immediately went into something of a tailspin.

This season’s start was hot, but a perceivable tailspin never came. Even in the toughest stretch, where the Chiefs lost four of six contests, there were reasons for it. Pivotal players were injured for each game. The defense was improving every week, and if this team could get healthy, it still felt as if the sky was the limit.

As I tweeted back in November, through 10 games, this Chiefs team had a bevy of injuries at major positions along the offensive line, defensive line, and in their skill positions:

Finally, the Chiefs are starting to get healthy. In the last three games, Damien Williams was the only starter who missed significant snaps due to injury. Given that LeSean McCoy has played consistently, Spencer Ware has signed, and Darwin Thompson has emerged as a real threat in the backfield, it hasn’t hurt the Chiefs much.

Some will say the Chiefs look hot because they’ve played some easier teams in the Raiders, the Patriots (offense), and the Broncos. I’d agree that, yes, those teams are not as challenging as some of the others we’ve faced. Yet, the Chiefs didn’t just beat them. They pummeled them by a score of 89 to 28. This team is hot, and with achieving the No. 2 seed has become a real possibility I think fans in Chiefs Kingdom can once again begin to dream of a Super Bowl run.

There’s still work to be done, however. The Chicago Bears team that the Chiefs will face on Sunday has been on an upswing in the last month. They’ve won three out of four games and nearly stole a win from the jaws of defeat at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Don’t forget, largely comprised of the same personnel, this team was a Super Bowl contender only one year ago. With that in mind, what storylines are important heading into Sunday’s primetime contest?

Mitch Trubisky is heating up

Few quarterbacks in the league are more polarizing than Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. A one-year starter at North Carolina, to the tune of 68% completions, 3,748 yards, and 30 touchdowns, Trubisky was an early riser in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With well-known commodities like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson on the board, as well as somewhat of an unknown commodity at the time in Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Pace fell for the physical gifts and toughness of Trubisky. The Bears valued his skill set to the point they traded significant draft capital to move up one spot to the number two pick to ensure they could draft him.

Since entering the league, Trubisky has been anything but consistent. In his first season with the team, he averaged a total of 203.5 yards per game and only threw 7 touchdowns in 12 games. With the arrival of Matt Nagy, things appeared to improve rather significantly in 2018.

Last season he completed 66 percent of his passes, generated 260.3 yards of offense per game, and threw 24 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions.Things were looking up for Trubisky and a franchise that hadn’t had a consistently good quarterback in decades.

Unfortunately for Bears fans, he’s regressed substantially this season. In the first 10 games of the year, he was only completing 62 percent of his passes, averaging less yards per game than his rookie season, and had only thrown 10 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. There was serious talk of avoiding his fifth year option and bringing in another quarterback in 2020—all for good reason.

In a bit of a late-season twist, during the last three games, Trubisky has turned that discussion on its head. In one of the best stretches of his career, he’s completing 66 percent of his passes for an average of 305 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception per game. He’s begun once again to utilize his ability in the run game, averaging 5.33 yards per carry and 32 rushing yards per game.

Now, in these three games, the Bears offense is still averaging less than 23 points a game. This would put them at 19th in that stretch, which shouldn’t exactly inspire fear in opposing defenses. That said, Trubisky’s production and confidence has improved and Sunday will not likely be a walk in the park for the Chiefs.