The last time the Bears and Chargers faced off in San Diego, was 2007 when former Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman led the visiting team to a 14-3 victory. That also was when LaDainian Tomlinson was in his prime as one of the NFL’s best running backs.
This game is a tale of two teams that have struggled to close out victories late, and have somewhat fallen along the way side just halfway through this young 2015 campaign. The Bears have lost two straight, one in overtime against Detroit, and last week in walk-off fashion at home against the Vikings.
Both teams are also dealing with serious injuries to key players, with Keenan Allen lost for the season for San Diego, and Matt Forte out for at least this game with a knee injury.
Chicago at San Diego
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Monday)
Spread: San Diego -4.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Bears Rookie RB Jeremy Langford
Langford, the Bears’ 2015 fourth-round selection from Michigan State will get the first start of his career, as he will fill in for Matt Forte, who is out for an undetermined time after injuring his knee last week against Minnesota.
Langford has just 46 yards rushing on 12 carries in spot duty so far this season, a far cry from the 706 yards from scrimmage that Forte has accumulated.
Langford has received high praise from both teammates and the coaching staff, and most recently Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. A fellow Spartan, Bell said Langford was “a mirror image of me,” and he should know since the two were teammates at Michigan State from 2010-12.
If Langford can be anything even remotely close to Bell, an All-Pro last season, he and the Bears’ offense could be in for a huge night against San Diego.
2. Chargers’ Passing Game
Quarterback Philip Rivers is without his leading wide receiver in Keenan Allen, who's been lost for the season after suffering a lacerated Kidney. Allen is just the beginning to the Chargers’ injury woes this year, as San Diego tries to avoid its first six-game losing streak since 2005.
With Allen now longer in the picture, Rivers will need to turn to his other wideouts, such as Malcom Floyd and Dontrelle Inman, who's caught 21 passes for 300 yards in two seasons.
The Bears’ secondary is one of the worst in the league, and a road game against a team desperate for a win could spell trouble for Chicago.
3. Can Bears Start a Winning Streak?
According to NFL.com, the Bears have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league, a good sign for a young, inexperienced team that sits currently at 2-5, in a must-win situation on the road.
After losing two in a row in the last minutes, the Bears are in a prime position to start a hot streak and potentially get back into the wild card picture.
The Chargers are extremely banged up in key pistons, most notably wide receiver and offensive line, the two positions Philip Rivers needs the most help from.
Jay Cutler has looked more and more like he’ll be the team’s starter through 2016, after playing relatively impressively so far this season, mostly without wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and first-round pick Kevin White.
Chicago’s run defense isn't its weakness, but running the ball is one of San Diego’s main issues offensively. What Chicago needs to focus on is stopping the pass, which should benefit somewhat from the Chargers’ injury issues.
Prediction: Bears 28, Chargers 21
— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.