Bears/Chargers Game Scout

The Bears are looking to win five in a row, while San Diego is trying to avoid a fifth straight loss. We go over everything you need to know to prepare yourself for this weekend's matchup.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 11/20/11
SURFACE: Natural grass

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chargers love to stretch the field, but safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright have been doing a good job of limiting big plays. More important, San Diego could be minus as many as three offensive line starters and QB Philip Rivers already has 19 turnovers. Look for the Chargers to try to establish the ground game and use RBs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert heavily in the underneath passing game. Chicago averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in last week's rout of Detroit. Look for RB Matt Forte to get plenty of touches against a defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry.

FAST FACTS: Rivers' 15 interceptions has already tied a career high. ... Bears QB Jay Cutler has thrown just six interceptions. His low in four previous seasons as a full-time starter is 14.



QB Phillip Rivers
Stephen Dunn/Getty

Should backup quarterback Billy Volek start warming up now?

It's probably a little early with Sunday's game with the Bears still days away, but then again, have you seen this matchup?

The Chargers are going to try and tangle with the Bears' active front seven with an offensive front that is of the mix-and-match variety.

Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman is out, put on injured reserve with a concussion.

Left tackle Marcus McNeill hasn't taken a snap after leaving the game a week ago against the Raiders with a neck injury. His replacement will be Brandyn Dombrowski, who allowed four sacks in the loss to the Raiders.

Tyronne Green, who was filling in for Dielman, is trying to play through a hand injury. If he does play, it will be with a heavy package which could restrict his contributions.

Right guard Louis Vasquez has a bum ankle, which forced him from the last game and he's yet to take a practice snap this week.

So it appears three of the opening-day starters on the front line will be in street clothes. And at left guard, it looks like a third stringer will man the position.

The Chargers have added some depth recently, elevating Stephen Schilling from the practice squad. They also signed street free agents Tony Moll and Ikechuku Ndukwe.

But it's clear the Chargers will be at a clear disadvantage Sunday when trying to slow a Bears defense that features pass-rusher Julius Peppers, who has a sack in each of his last four games.

Volek, stay loose.


The Bears' next four opponents are all from the AFC West, and quarterback Jay Cutler is familiar with that division after spending his first three years in the league with the Broncos. He says the West has changed somewhat since he was with Denver (2006-08).

QB Jay Cutler
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

"When I was out there, all the teams were kind of airing it out and throwing it," Cutler said. "Oakland has gotten into more of a running scheme, and Kansas City does a little bit of both, but San Diego is going to air it out. Denver, I don't know what they're doing anymore."

The division has swung heavily toward the run in recent years. The Broncos, whom the Bears play Dec. 11 in Denver, are No. 2 in rushing yards but 31st in passing yards. The Chiefs (Dec. 4 at Soldier Field) are 10th in rushing and 28th in passing, and the Raiders are No. 4 in rushing and 16th in passing. But the Chargers still like to put it up. They're No. 4 in passing yards and 18th in rushing.

"They're probably going to push the ball down the field," Cutler said. "That's what San Diego does the best. That's what Philip (Rivers) does, so defensively we're going to prepare for that."

Players have been asked about the possibility of this being a trap game for them, but no one admits to looking past the Chargers, despite their 4-5 record.

"For me, San Diego is not a trap game at all," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "The last time we played them, we lost (14-3 in 2007). Fortunately, we don't have to play against them with (former Bears and Chargers defensive coordinator) Ron Rivera, as their D-coordinator. But there are still some (former) Bears there (nose tackle Antonio Garay and defensive end Tommie Harris), and there are a lot of (former) Bear coaches on that squad.

"Rivers has found a lot of success against us in the past, found success enough to win in the past. For us this is a game that not only do we have to win, but we have to play like it's a playoff game."



--ILB Takeo Spikes (concussion) was able to practice again on Thursday and is a go for Sunday.

--WR Malcom Floyd (hip) didn't practice again - he hasn't gone all week -- and it appears he is out at least one more week.

--LT Marcus McNeill (neck) has yet to test his injury and it is looking more evident he won't start on Sunday. If he was to play, against the Bears' active defense, McNeill would be greatly tested.

--OLB Shaun Phillips (foot) is out of his walking boot but he didn't practice and the team's plans to have him return for this game appear to be on hold.

--RG Louis Vasquez (ankle) was out and isn't expected to play this week. He has yet to test his ankle since injuring it last week.

--OL Tyronne Green (hand) didn't practice and Turner wasn't real upbeat about his chances on going Sunday. This is critical as Green was set to replace Kris Dielman, after he was placed on IR.

DT Antonio Garay
Otto Greule Jr./Getty

--CB Marcus Gilchrist (hamstring) didn't practice for the second time this week and would appear doubtful for Sunday.

--DT Antonio Garay (hip) didn't practice for the second straight day. It sounds as if he can go Sunday but he will be compromised and may need to be rotated more often.

--DE Luis Castillo (leg) is expected to be out for another two-to-three weeks.

--SS Steve Gregory (thigh) was a full participant and is a go for Sunday.

--TE Antonio Gates didn't practice on Thursday but the team said it wasn't because of an injury.

--S Darrell Stuckey (thigh) was limited but should be fine for Sunday. Stuckey is a key contributor on special teams.


--OT Gabe Carimi (knee) did not practice this week and is not expected back for at least a couple more weeks.

--DE Julius Peppers (knee) practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday, and he will play on Sunday.

--WR Devin Hester (ankle, illness) practiced Thursday and will play Sunday.

--CB D.J. Moore (ankle), the Bears' No. 1 nickel corner, did not practice Thursday and might not be available for Sunday's game.

--CB Corey Graham, who took over at nickel last week when D.J. Moore was ejected for fighting, could take his spot Sunday if he cannot play.

--CB Tim Jennings, a starter, could move to nickel in passing situations if nickel back D.J. Moore cannot play.

--CB Zack Bowman, a backup, could play Tim Jennings' left-side spot, if Jennings moves to nickel in passing situations to fill in for injured D.J. Moore.

Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.

Bear Report Top Stories