|ESPN.com: Chicago Bears||[Print without images]|
|Phillips Rivers has put together a more successful body of work, and is probably the better pure quarterback. But Jay Cutler is playing better in 2011. Cutler averages 229.1 yards per game, but has cut down on the interceptions (6 so far). Rivers, meanwhile, has given up an NFL high 19 turnovers (15 interceptions, four fumbles). According to ESPN Stats & Info, 8 of Rivers’ 18 interceptions have been the result of either underthrown or overthrown balls.|| |
|Matt Forte has started in every game he’s played for the Bears since his rookie season. Over the last 30 seasons, just two running backs -- Tennessee's Eddie George (130) and former Charger LaDainian Tomlinson (63) -- have longer streaks of starts from the beginning of their careers. Forte averages 145.3 yards from scrimmage. San Diego’s Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert have a combined 70 catches, which ranks as the second-most by any running back duo in the NFL.|
|The Chargers’ receiving corps takes somewhat of a hit with the announcement that Malcolm Floyd (hip) is out for Sunday’s game, but Vincent Jackson, Vincent Brown and Patrick Crayton make the group a formidable challenge. Earl Bennett paces Chicago’s receivers and is coming off the best production in back-to-back games of his career. Still the club needs more contributions from Roy Williams, Devin Hester, and Johnny Knox.|
|Even with the injuries Chicago has sustained along the offensive line with Chris Williams and Gabe Carimi recently going on the injured reserve, its offensive line is in much better shape physically than the San Diego Chargers. Left tackle Marcus McNeill (neck) is out for Sunday’s game. His replacement, Brandyn Dombrowski gave up four sacks and 10 pressures last week. Somewhere Julius Peppers is smiling.|
|Again, injuries tell the tale here. Chargers DT Antonio Garay (hip) is questionable, and the team hasn’t received much in the way of contributions from left end Vaughn Martin (20 tackles, no sacks) and right end Corey Liuget (6 tackles, no sacks). Chicago’s defensive line, meanwhile, is almost completely healthy. Hobbled by a knee injury, Peppers is probable for this contest.|
|Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have combined for 44 tackles, four pass breakups and three quarterback pressures over the past two games, while Nick Roach seems to be coming into his own. San Diego’s Takeo Spikes is coming off a concussion, and Shaun Phillips is out with a foot injury. So the Chargers will need strong contributions from Antwan Barnes, who leads the team with six sacks.|
Chargers right cornerback Marcus Gilchrist is doubtful with a hamstring injury, but left corner Quentin Jammer can hold his own against most receivers. Safety Eric Weddle is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (5). Thanks to improved play at the safety position, the Bears are playing the best ball they’ve played all season in the secondary. Look for the Bears to match up Charles Tillman with Jackson.
|Devin Hester is back up to full strength, and the Bears will need him against San Diego’s strong group of specialists. Chargers’ punter Mike Scifres ranks fourth in net average (41.9), and the team didn’t allow any return yards the last time they faced the Bears in 2007. Of Scifres’ six punts that game, Hester fair caught three, and returned one for no yards, while another was down and another travelled out of bounds.|
|Turner holds the edge in experience, and is undefeated against the Chicago Bears. But the skids Turner’s teams experience have become all too familiar, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that ownership in San Diego is considering a coaching change. The Bears continue to improve because of the coaching staff’s attention to detail, and its desire to clean up even the smallest issues. Given all the challenges they’ve faced along the offensive line, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and offensive line coach Mike Tice deserve kudos.|
|Smith likes to joke about the Bears getting off the bus running. But that’s precisely what fans can expect Sunday when the club hosts the Chargers. Look for the Bears to give San Diego a healthy dose of Forte from the onset before hitting the visiting team with the passing game once it starts to crowd the box and focus on the run.Defensively, the Bears will look to shut down the run first and make the Chargers one dimensional. If they can do that early, this could turn out to be another turnover fest for the Bears. The Bears will deploy Peppers from a variety of spots along that defensive line, and that should confuse San Diego’s struggling offensive line and likely lead to sacks. If Moore can’t play, the Bears are confident in Corey Graham’s ability to get the job done. So don’t expect them to change up any of the calls to compensate for the loss of Moore.
|PREDICTION: Bears 34, Chargers 20.|