Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers (-4, 49 o/u)
Last week brought more of the injury bug to the already-infested San Diego Chargers (2-6, 2-2 Home). The team lost three key contributors for the rest of the season, including stud WR Keenan Allen (lacerated kidney). Now QB Philip Rivers will start the search for a new favorite target when his Chargers host the Chicago Bears (2-5, 1-2 Away) at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday Night Football (8:30 PM Eastern).
Rivers recognizes that replacing Allen (67 catches, 725 yards, four TDs) will likely require more than one guy stepping up, though.
“It’s not going to be like, ‘Hey, who’s going to be the next guy who’s going to catch 70 the next eight games?’ I don’t know that that’ll happen. It could, but I think it will be more by committee effort,” Rivers said to the Associated Press.
Not only was Allen knocked from San Diego’s Week 8 setback to the Ravens (29-26), but RB Branden Oliver (toe) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) were also put on season-ending injured reserve. These injuries won’t help a team already decimated on the o-line with Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap, and Chris Watt all battling through various afflictions.
This weekend’s tilt will be the second Monday nighter of the year for the reeling Charers. San Diego lost its first Monday matchup against the Steelers in Week 5 thanks to a late TD by Le’Veon Bell.
Bell’s last-second heroics started the Chargers’ on their current four-game losing streak. But they’ll get to face a Chicago team that’s almost as cold; the Bears have dropped two straight, falling 23-20 at home to Minnesota last weekend on the heels of a 37-34 OT setback in Detroit the week before.
The return of WR Alshon Jeffery has made the Bears’ attack a lot more formidable. The wideout has over 250 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. But new injuries hit Chicago, as well, last weekend with star RB Matt Forte leaving the game with an MCL injury. Forte’s knee problems will keep him out of this week’s game, too, meaning rookie Jeremy Langford will get the nod. The former Spartan has just 80 rushing yards on 27 attempts this season (3.0 yards per carry).
The betting outlook favors the Bears. Both teams are dealing with key injuries, but the Chargers are certainly worse off on that front. Moreover, San Diego is 1-5 ATS in its last six against Chicago and 1-8 ATS in its last nine at home, where opposing fans often outnumber the Charger faithful these days.
Pick: Bears +4.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)