Bears try to bolt past the Chargers

The Bears cornerbacks picked off two passes last week and could have the same opportunity against Drew Brees and the Chargers.

Eye of the storm

* LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers running back
The talented Tomlinson has 719 yards rushing and averages 5.1 yards a carry. The Chargers go as he goes and it will be the Bears' job to stop the run before even worrying about Drew Brees and the passing game.

* Bears defense
Yes, the pressure's on everybody today to step it up a notch. It starts with the defensive front, but linebackers like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Joe Odom have got to make sure Tomlinson doesn't break too many into the secondary.

Another key match-up
* Drew Brees, Chargers quarterback

The former Purdue gunslinger has thrown nothing but rubber bullets this season. Brees seems to have stepped back after a solid season in 2002. This could be a game for Brees to re-establish himself and get the Chargers out of a huge hole.

* Jerry Azumah/Charles Tillman, Bears cornerbacks
Azumah and Tillman both had picks last week against Detroit and Brees has tossed 11 interceptions this season to just seven touchdowns. The Bears secondary could have a feast on Brees if they get some heat on him.

Injury report
* Chargers:
S Vernon Fox (groin), C Cory Raymer (knee) are probable; WR Reche Caldwell (wrist), CB Sammy Davis (ankle), WR Kassim Osgood (ankle), TE Justin Peelle (ankle) are questionable; TE Stephen Alexander (groin) is out.

* Bears: DE Phillip Daniels (toe), TE Desmond Clark (toe), LB Warrick Holdman, QB Kordell Stewart (leg), RB Anthony Thomas (foot) are probable; WR Marty Booker (ankle), DT Keith Traylor (knee) are questionable. S Mike Green (groin), (ankle) and RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) are doubtful.

Fourth and makeable
Even though they have one of the worst offenses in the league, the Bears rank third in the NFL in fourth-down conversions. Chicago has a 83.3 percent success rate (5 for 6) on fourth-down plays in 2003. Only the Colts and Buccaneers have a better ratio on fourth down. On the flip side, the Bears are 25th in the league at converting on third down.

What's the rush?
Despite missing their top three rushers due to injury, the Bears' ground game is hanging onto its place among the top rushing teams in the NFL, ranking 14th with an average of 115.9 rushing yards per game and 743 total rushing yards. Highlighted by a season-high 200 yards vs. Oakland on Oct. 5 (Chicago's first 200-yard rushing game since Dec. 16, 2001), the Bears have moved up from 29th overall in rushing yards per game all the way to a high of No. 9 two weeks ago. The Bears are tied for 10th in the league at 4.4 yards per carry.

Kicking and screaming
Paul Edinger's streak of 14 consecutive field goals made to start a season ended when his 32-yard attempt in the fourth quarter was blocked against the Lions last week. The 14 straight field goals were the most by a Bears kicker since Kevin Butler nailed his first 14 tries to start the 1989 campaign. Butler also owns the franchise record for successful FGs to start a season with 16 in 1995. For the record, Edinger is perfect for his career on extra points, nailing 93 of 93.

Quick hits
* The Bears and Chargers meet today for only the ninth time since 1970.
* Each team has won four games each in the series.
* The Chargers won three of the first four, while the Bears have won four of the last five, including the last three in a row.
* Only two of the games in the series have been played at Soldier Field.
* This is the first meeting between the two franchises at Soldier Field since 1996.

Fast fact
Last week's win over Detroit put the Bears as the only team in NFL history to record 650 all-time victories.

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