The Bears and Chargers doesn't quite have the looks of a great primetime match up when the teams are viewed by record only. The 2-5 Bears and the 2-6 Chargers aren't in the thick of any playoff races but there is still a good chance for a good, close game tonight.
Both teams feature hard-throwing quarterbacks and have offenses that can score. They also both have nearly atrocious defenses.
There is a chance that this game is a shootout, but the Bears offense isn't built for that type of game, especially with their patchwork offensive line. Even if the line was fully healthy, this team has not played at a level or shown consistency to believe that they could hang in a touchdown battle.
The defense needs to show up big this week. They have to slow down the Chargers' passing game and that starts with rattling Philip Rivers.
The league's leader in pass yards comes in averaging 344.1 yards per game. The Bears surrender just 214.3 pass yards per game, third fewest in the league behind Denver and Seattle. Chicago has given up 16 touchdown passes and a 103.5 rating to opposing passers. It will be important for the Bears to get after the quarterback and keep Rivers on the sideline.
With that in mind, my three key players tonight:
Jeremy Langford, RB - In Langford's first career start he should find ample running lanes against the 26th ranked Chargers run defense. Langford was tabbed as a promising back of the future by Ryan Pace and now is his first extended look to prove he can be that guy. Matt Forte is Mr. Everything and has been for a long, long time and any and all comers trying to unseat him or at least give him a break on carries has been unable to do that. Forte ranks second in the league in touches, fifth in yards from scrimmage and eighth in rushing yards. Langford doesn't have to be that good but he does need to help the Bears stay in line with their 31:47 time of possession average.
Kyle Fuller, CB - Fuller is going to have to play well in order for the Bears to be in this game. Whether he's covering Malcom Floyd or Stevie Johnson, Fuller cannot afford to make many mistakes tonight. Rivers will make him pay. My guess would be that Rivers and offensive coordinator Frank Reich had to be salivating while watching film of Chicago's secondary. Fuller will be picked on early and often.
Pernell McPhee, OLB - I wanted to choose someone other than him. We know what we're getting from McPhee, the same thing we've gotten every week this season: a guy who is relentless and who gets after both the quarterback and the running backs. What the Bears really need is for someone, literally anyone else to also pick up some pass-rush slack. Jarvis Jenkins hasn't made an impact since earlier this season, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young have been non-existent. Whether it's one of them or Sam Acho, someone else needs to provide consistent pass rush aside from McPhee. Since it hasn't happened yet, McPhee it is.
Honorable mentions: Adrian Amos and Antrel Rolle for having to keep tabs on Antonio Gates, whoever plays nickleback, Martellus Bennett
Who do you think are the key players for a Bears victory?