Five key matchups that will be pivotal in today’s Bears game against the Chiefs:
1. Bears LT J’Marcus Webb vs. Chiefs LB Tamba Hali
The Chiefs have only 13 sacks in 11 games this season, but Hali has seven of those sacks. Webb has played well and cannot afford to relax against Hali, who has tallied 48½ sacks in 90 starts with the Chiefs and is No. 6 in the AFC this season. If Hali is able to pressure Caleb Hanie, the Bears’ quarterback has good speed to scramble for yards.
2. Bears DT Henry Melton vs. Chiefs C Casey Wiegmann
Melton has registered two sacks in the past three weeks after going five consecutive games without a sack. He will spend a healthy chunk of his day in one-on-one battles against Wiegmann, who played for the Bears from 1997 to 2000 until Olin Kreutz outdueled him for a starting job. Wiegmann has started 170 consecutive games.
3. Bears CB Charles Tillman vs. Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe
Bowe has elite talent, but his effort has not always matched his ability. He has 68 receptions of at least 20 yards in his career, and his 330 receptions are eighth in franchise history. Tillman excelled against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson three weeks ago but struggled badly against San Diego’s Vincent Jackson two weeks ago.
4. Bears LB Brian Urlacher vs. Chiefs RB Thomas Jones
Urlacher became good friends with Jones during the running back’s tenure with the Bears from 2004 to ’06. Today will mark the first time Urlacher will play against his friend and former teammate. Look for Jones to split carries with Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster, who have filled in as a committee for injured starter Jamaal Charles.
5. Bears coach Lovie Smith vs. Chiefs coach Todd Haley
Haley was the Bears’ wide receivers coach from 2001 to ’03, but he left before Lovie Smith was hired in 2004. Smith’s team lost two consecutive games in Week 2 and Week 3, and since then they have won six of the past eight games. Expect Smith to have his players prepared against Haley’s Chiefs, who have lost four consecutive games.
– Tom Musick