Norv Turner’s San Diego Chargers come to Soldier Field Sunday desperate to salvage what is left of their season. They’ll meet a Chicago Bears team riding a four-game win streak and on a grand emotional high. Can the Bears make it five straight? I think so.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- The Bears front can wreak havoc on the Chargers offensive line, forcing Phil Rivers into the bad decisions that have defined their season to this point. Rivers seems to put half a dozen balls up for grabs each week and the Bears secondary seems to be finding their takeaway spirit. What the Bears can’t do is sit comfortably off the receivers and allow Rivers to develop his own rhythm.
- I watched the Raiders’ Michael Bush run almost rampant through the Chargers defense. Matt Forte struggled to find holes against the Lions (not his fault) but I don’t see him having back-to-back poor efforts in 2011. He goes well over 100 yards Sunday.
- I do think the Bears must be wary of Antonio Gates ruining the game on them. Gates has not been able to stay consistently healthy but when he’s out on the field he’s still one of the best tight ends around. LoveRod looks like they’ve fixed the deep threat situation as the tandem of Conte/Wright have allowed a single passing TD but Rivers is more than capable of finding Gates behind the linebackers.
- The Chargers have notoriously bad special teams. Notoriously bad. And the Bears continue to be the best special teams units in the league. I can’t imagine Norv will kick the ball to Devin Hester but then again I can’t imagine half the things Norv does prior to his doing them.
- It’ll be interesting to see how defenses approach Earl Bennett moving forward. Over the last two ballgames, Bennett has clearly emerged as Jay Cutler’s primary target, living in the middle of the field. Once Bennett begins pulling the opponent’s number one corner on a consistent basis, I expect the field to open wide for Knox, Roy and whomever else the Bears line up out wide.
- I’m not getting worried yet but I’m not in love with Adam Podlesh’s inconsistent distance on punts or Robbie Gould all of a sudden becoming a 75/25 proposition on field goals between 40-45 yards. Clean it up, fellas.
- If I recall correctly, Cutler and Rivers did not care for each other when they were divisional opponents. I am waiting for Jay to put up one of those 400 yard efforts. It’s going to happen. Will it be this Sunday in front of his old pal?
- The two guys in the Chargers secondary that stand out to me are corner Quentin Jammer and Eric “Have You Seen how Much I Get Paid” Weddle. Jammer wants the ball and often sells out in order to get his hands on it. Weddle is having a terrific year, justifying his huge money contract, but I maintain he can be attacked over the top. The Bears have to test both these guys by allowing one of our speedy receivers to stretch the field. Go max protect, give Cutty a pocket and chuck the thing a million yards to either Hester or Knox. See what happens.
- What is also strange about the Chargers is I’ve seen every snap of their games against the Jets, Chiefs and Raiders and I don’t get it. They looked like a Super Bowl contender for the first two quarters against the Jets and like the worst team in the league for the last two quarters. Rivers was taking a snap to center the ball for a game-winning field goal against the Chiefs. A win that would have proven a nice tonic for the Jets loss and possibly stabilized their season. But of course he fumbled it and the Chiefs won. And against the Raiders, SD couldn’t stop the run and let receivers run free in their secondary. I have a feeling the Chargers will have a new head coach in 2012 and that guy is going to add toughness.
- I don’t see the Bears falling into the letdown game trap. I wrote last week that I believed that everything in Bears universe seemed to be leading up to the Detroit rematch and the team was unmistakably amped. Now after a dominant victory they face a non-conference opponent and the prevailing wisdom in the gambling world is the Bears might not have the required energy level. If this game were in San Diego, I’d be worried. But I don’t think the Soldier Field will allow any dip in energy from this Bears team.
Chicago Bears 33, San Diego Chargers 20