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Chiefs-Bears rapid reaction: Chiefs smash far-inferior Bears on Sunday

Could this be the best Chiefs defense of the Patrick Mahomes era?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs smoked the Chicago Bears 41-10 in Sunday’s Week 3 matchup. Here is my initial reaction to the game:

The Chiefs actually did what they were supposed to against an inferior opponent.

In recent years — even as they developed their championship pedigree — the Chiefs have occasionally found themselves in close games against far worse teams (think of last year’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts — or taking it to overtime against the Houston Texans).

Heading into this week’s matchup against the Bears — who now appear to be one of the league’s worst teams — I had some hesitance in picking the Chiefs in a blowout.

But that’s exactly what happened at Arrowhead on Sunday. Kansas City was better than Chicago in all three phases — and quarterback Patrick Mahomes was able to exit the game in the third quarter.

Kansas City established the run early, opening things up for the whole offense.

Last week, the Chiefs went into the halftime locker room, having run the ball only twice. Against the Bears, they ran the ball early and often. By halftime, running backs had collected 14 carries for 63 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

To finish the day, Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire were responsible for a combined 163 yards from scrimmage and four scores.

When Kansas City uses a good mix of run and pass to start the game, it often leads to outings like Sunday against the Bears. The Chiefs were wise to get back on that track.

Through three games, this looks like the best defense of the Mahomes Era.

Since Mahomes took over as quarterback in 2018, the Chiefs have won two Super Bowl championships and have played in another — but in those seasons, it was a good defense doing enough to complement an outstanding offense. It never felt like the team’s weight was evenly distributed between the two phases.

2019’s defense ranked 17th in yards allowed per game, 2020’s was 16th and last year’s team was 11th. In three games, this year’s defense looks like it could crack the top 10 — and perhaps even the top five.

Especially with Chris Jones back in the mix, the defensive line creates consistent pressure. On Sunday, the Chiefs were without 2022’s leading tackler — linebacker Nick Bolton — but the unit’s depth is so strong that his absence was barely noticeable. Cornerback Trent McDuffie has quietly become one of the game’s best young players at his position — and after missing the preseason, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed looked more confident against Chicago.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is infamous for tempering expectations at the beginning of the season. But so far, no one could ask for a better start by his unit. This might very well be the best defense that Mahomes has ever had, something that should terrify the rest of the league.

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