Week 9 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears At San Diego Chargers

Week 9 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears At San Diego Chargers
Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers, shown after a game in 2011 in Chicago, say they have no hard feelings about what Cutler said about Rivers on a TV show seven years ago. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

Two reeling teams will meet on Monday Night Football this week, the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers.

At 2-5, the Bears have dropped two straight games to divisional opponents while the Chargers (2-6) have lost four straight and four of their last seven since opening the season with a win over Detroit.

The last time these two teams squared off at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was 2007. The Chargers won 14-3 as Rex Grossman was the quarterback for the Bears and Michael Turner and LaDanian Tomlinson were a one-two punch for San Diego.

Overall, the Bears have won five of the last six meetings in this series dating back to 1993. A matchup at Soldier Field in 2011 was the last game against one another as the Bears won 31-20.

Both the Bears and Chargers have been teams that have hung around in games this season, but simply haven’t executed in key moments.

Let’s see what John Fox and Co. can do in San Diego in the Bears’ first primetime matchup of the season thus far.

The Bears lead the all-time series 6-5. The first meeting came back in 1970 at Wrigley Field.

Here’s a breakdown of what both teams are thinking heading into Monday night’s 12th all-time meeting.

What the Chargers are thinking

San Diego can get some serious work done with their passing attack as they lead the NFL with passing yards per game (336.9). However, the offense hasn’t capitalized when it has needed to as they rank 14th overall in points per game (23.9).

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has topped the 300-yard passing mark in all but two games as he owns 18 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 102.1 passer rating. His 503-yard, two-touchdown performance three weeks ago was something straight out of a Madden video game. But again San Diego failed to score enough points falling 27-20.

It’s been a rough season for the Chargers considering they’ve looked so solid on offense most weeks, but they can’t do enough. Wide receiver Keenan Allen was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering a lacerated kidney which means Malcolm Floyd and Stevie Johnson will be the starting receivers with Dontrelle Inman moving into the No. 3 spot.

Also, the offensive line is beat up as starters, left tackle King Dunlap has been ruled out and left guard Orlando Franklin is doubtful. The unit has allowed 19 sacks and the sixth-most quarterback hits (56).

On the defensive side of the ball, it has been a struggle to slow down opponents with a fifth-worst points per game mark (28.4). San Diego ranks 13th overall in total yards allowed per game (362.9).

What the Bears are thinking

No Matt Forte this week and possibly next Sunday in St. Louis as he sat out practice all week with a knee injury, aka MCL sprain. Rookie running back Jeremy Langford will make his first career start and he should find holes against a Chargers defense that’s allowing 124.6 yards per game on the ground, the sixth-worst mark.

Alshon Jeffery will be tough to stop and the Bears need to use him early and often along with No. 2 receiver Marquess Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett. Eddie Royal is out and that will make things hard for the Bears in the slot where Marc Mariani and Cameron Meredith will soak up the snaps.

Jay Cutler has combined for seven touchdowns (6 passing, 1 rushing) and only two interceptions since returning from a hamstring in Week 4 against Oakland. When he faces Rivers it always seems to be a fun and high-scoring affair. This is the seventh meeting between the two foes.

On defense, the numbers are rather deceiving as Vic Fangio’s unit has allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (213.4). However, the defense has given up 28.9 points per game which ranks fourth behind only Detroit, New Orleans and Jacksonville.

The pass rush has to improve, an area where the Bears are currently 27th with just 12 through eight weeks. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee leads the way with five sacks and has looked impressive, but the Bears need more help outside of him.

Shea McClellin is expected to start next to his pal Christian Jones inside giving the Bears’ defense a big boost.

The cornerback spot is the area of concern with Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller serving as the top two guys. Expect them to be tested plenty as well as the slot corner spot where Bryce Callahan could start again depending on his availability. The Bears would be in trouble with Sherrick McManis playing there.

No matter what happens this is a winnable game for the Bears as it is expected to be one filled with scoring and big plays. San Diego has blown so many games this year and the Bears have yet to put together a full performance yet, but this could be the week.

Injury Report

Bears – OUT: Running back Matt Forte (knee), wide receiver Eddie Royal (knee)

DOUBTFUL: Center Hroniss Grasu (neck)

QUESTIONABLE: Left tackle Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), cornerback Bryce Callahan (concussion), linebacker Shea McClellin (knee), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), tight end Zach Miller (shoulder)

PROBABLE: Wide receiver Cameron Meredith (ankle), linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (knee)

Chargers – OUT: Tackle King Dunlap (ankle), linebacker Denzel Perryman (biceps), linebacker Manti Te’o (ankle), center Chris Watt (shoulder)

DOUBTFUL: Guard Orlando Franklin (knee), tight end Ladarius Green (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE: Defensive tackle Corey Liuget (foot), cornerback Patrick Robinson (concussion), safety Darrell Stuckey (hamstring), cornerback Jason Verrett (groin), safety Eric Weddle (groin)

PROBABLE: Cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee), tight end Antonio Gates (knee)

Final Score Prediction

Bears 31, Chargers 27

Expect this one to be a battle as both teams desperately need a win. It should be a high-scoring game with Cutler and Rivers doing all they can offensively to put up points. It will come down to defense where one team will likely have to make one final stop in the end to hang on.

Season predictions: (3-4)

Weather.com Forecast

Partly cloudy skies early will give way to occasional showers later during the night. Low 58F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 MPH. Chance of rain 60 percent.

What’s to come?

The Bears battle the Rams in St. Louis next Sunday before playing host to the Denver Broncos in Week 11.

Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Monday’s game against San Diego, here.

Thoughts on the Bears-Chargers Week 9 matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.

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