Every year, I make the argument that the NFL should allow ESPN to flex games into the "Monday Night Football" slot as it does allow NBC to do so later in the season for the Sunday night game. But I get why MNF is a different animal because moving a game a few hours later on Sunday isn't a big deal for fans or stadium preparations, etc., but shifting a game an entire day is. So it's not going to happen.
I mention this because this Monday's game is meaningless other than for potential draft position as Chicago (2-5) visits San Diego (2-6) -- perhaps the final "Monday Night Football" game ever from that city as the Bolts attempt to move to Los Angeles as early as next year. Both these teams entered the season with a good quarterback, running back, No. 1 receiver and tight end. But injuries and poor defense have wrecked both teams. Not much was expected from the Bears, really, in Coach John Fox's first season, but the Chargers were expected to contend for the playoffs after just missing last season at 9-7.
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It behooves each side to lose this game. Were the draft held today, San Diego would pick fourth and Chicago eighth.
Bears at Chargers Betting Story Lines
San Diego enters on a four-game losing streak and off to its worst start since 2003, but this team isn't that far from being 6-2. The Bolts could have won Week 2 in Cincinnati but lost by five. Three of the Chargers' past five games were decided with no time remaining. The first, against the Browns in Week 4 was a field goal for a win. The following two, Week 5 on a Monday vs. Pittsburgh and last week in Baltimore, were losses. In addition, the offense was 3 yards from forcing overtime in Green Bay in Week 6. The only clear losses were Week 3 at Minnesota and Week 7 against Oakland.
You certainly can't blame Philip Rivers for the team's struggles as he leads the NFL in passing yards with 2,753 to go with 18 TDs. He has passed for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in five consecutive games. With another performance like that in this one, he would become the fourth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in six straight games. The others are Drew Brees (eight in a row) Peyton Manning (seven) and Steve Young (six).
In last week's 29-26 loss to Baltimore on Justin Tucker's 39-yard field goal as time expired, the Chargers saw an incredible 12 players exit the game due to injury at one point and only eight returned. They were: left tackle King Dunlap, defensive end Corey Liuget, tight end Ladarius Green, guard-tackle Chris Hairston, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, guard-center Chris Watt, wide receiver Keenan Allen, cornerback Jason Verrett, cornerback Patrick Robinson, running back Branden Oliver, safety Darrell Stuckey and safety Jahleel Addae. Wow!
Allen is the biggest loss as he's done for the season (as is Oliver) with a lacerated kidney. He might have been able to return late this season, but the Chargers knew there was no point and put him on IR. Allen has 67 catches (No. 2 in NFL) for 725 yards (No. 3). As for the rest of those injured guys, it's generally too early to tell. The San Diego offensive line has been battered all season.
The Bears have lost two straight but really should have won both, blowing fourth-quarter leads in Detroit and then last week to Minnesota. Those two games also were decided on the final play. In the loss to the Vikings, running back Matt Forte suffered a knee injury that will likely keep him out a few weeks but not end his season. Forte has rushed for 548 yards and two scores while catching 25 passes for 219 yards and a TD. Fourth-round rookie Jeremy Langford takes over. He has 27 carries for 80 yards. Also out a few weeks is No. 2 receiver Eddie Royal, a former Charger.
I remember the last meeting between these teams, a 31-20 Bears home win on Nov. 20, 2011. I remember because Chicago was playing its best football of the season (8-2 record following that victory) and looked like a legitimate NFC contender. But Jay Cutler broke his right thumb against the Chargers and that torpedoed the Bears' season as they lost their next five. Cutler didn't leave the San Diego game -- but it ended his season -- and threw for 286 yards, two TDs and rushed for a score. Forte rushed for 57 yards and caught four passes. Rivers was 21-for-31 for 280 yards, two TDs and two picks. Antonio Gates caught four for 63 yards and a TD.
Bears at Chargers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , San Diego is a 4-point favorite (-110) with a total of 49. The Bolts are -200 on the moneyline and Bears +170. On the alternate lines, the Chargers are -4.5 (-103) and -3.5 (-117). Chicago is 3-4 against the spread (2-1 on road) and 3-4 "over/under" (1-2 on road). San Diego is 3-5 ATS (1-3 at home) and 4-4 O/U (3-1 at home).
Chicago is 5-2 ATS in its past seven against teams with a losing record. The Bears are 2-6 ATS in their past eight November games. San Diego is 5-2 ATS in its past seven on Monday. It is 5-12 ATS in its past 17 in November. The Bolts are 1-6 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record and have covered only one of their past nine at home overall. The under is 8-1 in Chicago's last nine against clubs with a losing record. The over is 4-0 in San Diego's past four against teams with a losing record. It is 5-2 in its past seven after a loss.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Bears at Chargers Panthers Betting Picks
Even with so many offensive players hurt, this should be a shootout because both defenses are terrible. San Diego is No. 27 in points allowed (28.4 per game) and Chicago No. 29 (28.9). Sometimes the worst matchups turn out to be the most entertaining ones. Go over the total and I'd give the lowest spread 5Dimes will post. You should be able to get an alternate line of 2.5 by Sunday.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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