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Luckless Chargers trying to keep the faith

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The Sports Xchange

SAN DIEGO — As they prepare for Monday night’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, the San Diego Chargers are putting their slant on the San Diego Padres’ slogan — Keep the Faith.

After four straight losses, why not?

“We’ve had a couple tough breaks that could’ve gone either way,” Philip Rivers said. “You just got to keep believing.”

The Padres talk about keeping the faith. The Chargers (2-6) are preaching the same sermon.

It’s been a bad season for the Chargers and it continues to get worse. Not only have they lost a month’s worth of consecutive games but they lost wide receiver Keenan Allen as well.

Allen, who was having a Pro Bowl if not an All-Pro season, sustained a lacerated kidney making a touchdown catch in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He was been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

His is only one of the numerous injuries that have crippled the Chargers. But the Bears (2-5), like the previous four opponents, aren’t going to feel bad about San Diego’s misfortune.

Not only do the Chargers need a win, but embattled coach Mike McCoy does as well.

The Chargers have lost nine of their last 12 games, and in the third season of McCoy’s run, there seems to be little progress.

But that’s a big picture item and the Chargers, right now, are more zeroed in on the Bears on Monday night.

The Chargers’ chances of snapping their losing skid improve if Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle returns. He practiced on Wednesday after missing two games.

“I’m upbeat,” said Weddle, a four-time defensive team captain. “It’s the challenge of trying to keep the team going. Everyone can’t be down. If everyone is down, then that is not a good recipe.”

So Weddle is upbeat, which isn’t an upset.

“I’m going to be energetic and push the guys,” Weddle said. “Keep working hard and keep the fight. It doesn’t matter if you’re 0-8 or 8-0. That doesn’t change your mind-set. I love this game and I play for this team.”

But they’re playing for something else on Monday.

“I believe we can go win,” Weddle said. “We have to make more plays, play together and build off some things.”

Something has to happen to stop the Chargers’ skid. At least in the locker room, they are keeping the faith as they fight on.

SERIES HISTORY: 12th meeting. The Bears lead, 6-5. Chicago has won four of the past five games, including the last one in 2011. The Bears prevailed, 31-20, at Soldier Field as Jay Cutler threw for two touchdowns and ran in for another one. The lone Charger win over this recent stretch came in the Bears’ last visit to San Diego in 2007. The Chargers won, 14-3, as Philip Rivers didn’t throw a touchdown pass but LaDainian Tomlinson did. Tomlinson had a scoring connection with Antonio Gates and Tomlinson also rushed for a score.

GAME PLAN: The Chargers can do one thing will, throw the ball. Well, quarterback Philip Rivers can do it well, that is. So do it — throw the ball and take advantage of a banged-up Bears secondary. Rivers will try to add to his franchise record by throwing for 300 yards in a sixth consecutive game. With the Chargers unable to establish any type of a running attack and the defense unable to hold late leads, this game will again fall on the right arm of Rivers. But Rivers will be missing his favorite wide receiver, Keenan Allen. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they have few other options that to heave the ball with regularity.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Chargers pass defense vs. Bears passing game led by quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Chargers have allowed big chunks of yards to rival passing attacks with regularity. Some of that is teams picking on cornerback Brandon Flowers while staying way from the opposite corner, Jason Verrett. Also, with free safety Eric Weddle (groin) missing the last two games, there was more confusion than usual in getting everyone lined up correctly. There is no guarantee Weddle will be back and that could be an invitation for Cutler to go after the secondary. Although Cutler, who had some great games against the Chargers, has only two touchdown passes in his last two games. The Chargers need to keep an eye on WR Alshon Jeffrey. He’s coming off a 10-reception, 116-yard game with a touchdown.

–Chargers run defense vs. Bears running game which could be compromised.

John Fox saw plenty of Philip Rivers when Fox was the head coach of the Denver Broncos. And while he might trust Jay Cutler to go toe-to-toe in a shootout with Rivers, Fox’s defensive slant will likely have him leaning more to keeping the ball away from Rivers. If the Bears can run the ball, that keep the clock running and Rivers on the sideline. The Chargers struggled against the run all year, although they were better last week in holding the Ravens to 72 yards rushing. But the Bears could be minus RB Matt Forte (knee) and will ask Jeremy Langford to carry the load. The Chargers are hoping ILB Manti Te’o (ankle) can play after missing the last three games.


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