Bears vs. Chargers: Full San Diego Game Preview

Marcelo Villa@@_marcelovillaFeatured Columnist IIINovember 5, 2015

Bears vs. Chargers: Full San Diego Game Preview

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Losers of four straight games, the San Diego Chargers will be looking to rebound at home against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

    San Diego (2-6) played a hard-fought game in Baltimore last Sunday but lost 29-26 to the Ravens after Justin Tucker kicked the game-winning, 39-yard field goal as time expired.

    Chicago (2-5) also tasted defeat last weekand in a similar fashion too, losing on a late field goal. Blair Walsh kicked the game-winning, 36-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a 23-20 decision over the Bears last Sunday at Soldier Field.

    San Diego and Chicago have met only twice during the regular season in the past decade, with the home team winning each time. So far this season, the Chargers are 1-2 against NFC North foes.

    For more on this Monday-night matchup, click next.

    Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

    Time: 5:30 p.m. PT

    TV: ESPN

Week 8 Results and Recap

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
    AFC West StandingsWinsLosses
    Denver Broncos70
    Oakland Raiders43
    Kansas City Chiefs 35
    San Diego Chargers26

    For once, San Diego actually held a lead and did so multiple times against the Ravens, but it fell apart at the end.

    After Josh Lambo's 49-yard field goal tied the game at 26-26 with two minutes and 27 seconds remaining, Baltimore began the ensuing drive from its own 20-yard line and hit plays of 18, 13 and 11 yards to get into the Chargers' side of the field.

    When the Ravens faced a 3rd-and-19, San Diego bailed them out with a 21-yard defensive pass interference penalty, setting up Baltimore with prime field position at the 22-yard line.

    A few plays later, Justin Tucker came on to kick the game-winner.

    Philip Rivers, who threw for 300 yards and at least two touchdowns for a fifth consecutive game, told reporters, "It's been tough, keep losing them this way. For once, I don't have a lot to say, really. I don't have a whole lot of answers ... This is uncharted waters for me."

    For the third time in the past four weeks, the Chargers were beaten on the last play of the game. But even more upsetting than the loss was the number of injuries suffered.

    At least 12 San Diego players came out at some point and many did not return, including star receiver Keenan Allen, who suffered a lacerated kidney while laying out for a touchdown catch just before the half.

    Injuries have been an ongoing problem for the Chargers since the season started, but nothing could have prepared them for what took place on Sunday. Head athletic trainer James Collins got quite a bit of camera time given how many times he was out on the field checking on downed players.

News and Notes

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Keenan Allen Out for Season

    After undergoing a non-surgical procedure for the lacerated kidney he suffered against the Ravens, Allen was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday but is expected to make a full recovery in approximately six weeks, sources told ESPN.

    Prior to the injury, Allen was putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season for the Chargers with 67 receptions for 725 yards. He was also the league's third-most targeted receiver (89) through the first eight weeks behind DeAndre Hopkins (113) and Julio Jones (103).

    Branden Oliver, Tourek Williams Placed on IR; Chargers Add 3 to Active Roster

    Joining Allen on season-ending IR this week were Oliver (toe) and Williams (foot).

    Oliver, the Chargers' third-leading rusher, was among those injured in last Sunday's loss at Baltimore. Williams, meanwhile, was injured on Aug. 13 in San Diego's preseason opener and was unable to make it back in time to contribute in 2015.

    In a corresponding move, center J.D. Walton, receiver Javontee Herndon and cornerback Greg Ducre were signed to the active roster, per the team website.

    Jacoby Jones Cut

    San Diego ranks dead last in the NFL with one punt return yard, which clearly shows Jones wasn't the worth the investment made by San Diego in the offseason.

    But it was a punt Jones didn't field that may have led to his release on Tuesday. During the fourth quarter of Sunday's game in Baltimore, Jones elected not to field a punt, which rolled down to the Chargers' 3-yard line and resulted in a quick three-and-out for the offense.

    Asked about Jones' error in Monday's news conference, head coach Mike McCoy said, "That's a ball we have to definitely field."

    Eric Weddle Stays Put at Trade Deadline

    With Weddle in the final year of his contract and unlikely to sign with the Chargers after this season, dealing the All-Pro safety at the trade deadline seemed like a very real possibilityespecially after Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that San Diego was shopping Weddle.

    But the deadline came and went with no deal happening, and the team denied the reports of PFT and others.

    Now, instead of getting something in return for a player who seems destined to leave in free agency, the Chargers will get nothing.

Latest Injury News

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    San Diego's official injury report ahead of Monday night's game will not be available until late Thursday. In the meantime, here's what we know.

    The following players did not practice on Wednesday, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: Green, Te'o, Liuget, Dunlap and Franklin. Te'o has missed the last three games since suffering an ankle injury on Oct. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perryman, who started in Te'o's place at inside linebacker for two games, was seen practicing on Wednesday and could be back to resume his duties in the middle.

    Franklin is still recovering from the MCL sprain he suffered in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders. Green, Liuget and Dunlap were all injured in the first quarter of the Baltimore game.

    Some good news for the Chargers was the return of Weddle at practice after missing the last two games. His presence has been sorely missed on defense.

    More information will be available when the official injury report comes out on Thursday.

    ** Updated Injury Report per Chargers.com **

    NamePositionInjury
    King DunlapOTAnkle
    Orlando FranklinOGKnee
    Ladarius GreenTEAnkle
    Corey LiugetDEFoot
    Denzel PerrymanILBBiceps
    Manti Te'oILBAnkle
    Antonio GatesTEKnee
    Darrell StuckeyDBHamstring
    Jason VerrettCBGroin
    Chris WattCShoulder
    Eric WeddleFSGroin
    Brandon FlowersCBKnee
    Patrick RobinsonCBConcussion

Key Matchups

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jason Verrett vs. Alshon Jeffery

    Verrett has gone up against the opposing team's No. 1 receiver in the last two weeks and should do so again here against the Bears.

    Jeffery (6'3" and 216 lbs) has been limited by a hamstring injury, playing in just three games for Chicago, but he has gotten healthier over his last two outings. In back-to-back games against Detroit and Minnesota, he had over 100 receiving yards with one touchdown apiece.

    Verrett did well in coverage against Steve Smith Sr. last week, limiting him to four catches for 65 yards, according to Pro Football Focus, but he'll be tested by the much bigger and more physical Jeffery, who wins jump-ball situations more often than not.

    Philip Rivers vs. Chicago's Secondary

    Chicago's pass defense ranks fourth in yards allowed at 214 per game but has allowed 16 touchdowns through the air. At the moment, Rivers is averaging 344 yards per game and has thrown eight touchdowns over his last three starts.

    With no real running game to speak of, the Chargers will likely put the ball in Rivers' hands and see if he can wear down the Bears through the air.

    Judging by his play so far, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see another 300-yard passing game from Rivers, which would make him just the seventh quarterback in NFL history to do so in six consecutive games.

X-Factor

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Chargers' Matchup X-Factor of the Week: Javontee Herndon

    Signed off the practice squad this week, Herndon will likely pull double duty on Monday, serving as both a returner and receiver on offense following the release of Jacoby Jones and Keenan Allen's injury.

    During the preseason, he showed flashes as a returner and made a few plays with the the second-team offense. With the opportunity to prove himself as a possible permanent addition to the active roster, Herndon told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn't intend to be a temporary fill-in:

    I definitely want to prove that I’m here to stay. I don’t want it to be one of those things where they look back and say, "Oh we needed a guy so we called him just because (a guy got hurt)." I mean unfortunately that’s what happened that gave me this chance, but I want to make the best of it and prove that I deserve to be here for years to come.

Prediction

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    The losing has to stop at some point for San Diego, and the oddsmakers agree that this is the game when it does. According to Odds Shark, the Chargers are favored by four points over the Bears.

    San Diego's only two wins on the season have come at home, so playing at Qualcomm should give the Chargers a boost provided the stadium isn't overrun by Bears fans, which wouldn't be all that surprising. But even despite the loss of Keenan Allen and the slew of injuries, the Bolts should be able to get one over Chicago before entering their bye week.

    However, Bears coach John Foxpreviously with Denverbeat McCoy's Chargers in four of the five games against his former coaching assistant.

    Granted, that was with a better team, but Fox's ability as a coach shouldn't be underestimated even with a struggling Bears squad.

    Predicted Score: Chargers 21, Bears 16