Source: USA Today
Seven games doesn't sound like much, but that's all the struggling Chargers have left.
Next up is a game Sunday in Chicago, and the Chargers enter carrying their first four-game losing streak since 2003.
The Bears are heading the opposite direction, winners of four straight and five of six. They are playing at their highest level this season.
Despite the Chargers' fall, they remain one game out of the AFC West lead. That their 4-5 mark puts them in a three-team tie for second place can't be overlooked.
But neither can the Chargers being careless with the football and consistently leaky on defense.
"We'll continue to stick together, and I think we have the group that can get it done," veteran cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "We have the group in this locker room to get it together."
That core better hurry. The Chargers are coming off a three-game, 11-day stretch that saw their losing ways accelerate.
"Regardless of the schedule, you have to come out and compete," Jammer said.
That the Chargers have to find their legs on the road is troubling. San Diego visits Solider Field after losing three of four road games this year and eight of 12 dating to last year.
"We just got to keep believing and go," said quarterback Philip Rivers, whose 18 turnovers lead the NFL. "For us to win a game, we can't feel sorry for ourselves and have everybody in the locker room try to figure out what the problem is. We all better just go be part of the answer and be excited about playing.
"We have to go to Chicago and play a team that's one of the top in the NFC and see what happens."
The Bears present challenges in many ways, including their use of running back Matt Forte. The Chargers have trouble with physical backs; overall, San Diego's run defense has been struggling lately.
Safety Eric Weddle was clear in his assessment after the defense was manhandled by the Raiders.
"We got our butts kicked, and there's no way around it," he said.
It's no mystery what the Chargers must do: try to flip a disappointing season, but one that remains salvageable considering the AFC West race.
"Pouting around feeling sorry for ourselves isn't going to get us a win," Rivers said. "We just have to get ready to go to Chicago and play really good and get a win."
LINEUP WATCH: Left tackle Brandyn Dombrowski could see increased action if starter Marcus McNeill's neck injury is serious. Dombrowski looks to rebound from a disastrous game in which he gave up four sacks. The issue on the left side is compounded because Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman's availability in doubt with a concussion.
UNDER THE RADAR: Wide receiver Vincent Brown is playing more and quickly gaining the confidence of coaches and teammates. Brown was targeted a game-high nine times, catching five passes for 97 yards and a score against the Raiders. He had another acrobatic catch for a touchdown reversed. Brown, a third-round pick, isn't a speedster, but he's a reliable route-runner with sure hands. Brown is taking advantage of Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson being in and out of the lineup.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—OLB Shaun Phillips (foot) is hopeful his patience will be rewarded this week. Phillips has missed the past three games, with Sunday his target date for returning.
—LT Marcus McNeill and the team hope his neck injury is not a long-term ailment. McNeill had neck surgery in 2009 and has been down twice this year with neck sprains.
—ILB Takeo Spikes (concussion) should take tests this week in anticipation of his return. However, his status is still to be determined.
—LG Kris Dielman (concussion) could take the first step toward returning with the mandatory test this week. Dielman has missed the past three games.
—WR Malcom Floyd (hip) likely will try to practice this week after missing the past two games.
—DE Luis Castillo (leg) remains out for two to three weeks.
REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS
PASSING OFFENSE: C - Philip Rivers threw for two touchdowns and 274 yards but again had a killer interception, this one late when the Chargers were trying to rally yet again. Rivers got hammered as the pass-protection was nearly zilch; he was sacked six times and hit numerous other occasions behind a makeshift line.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C - Some good here, what with Ryan Mathews averaging 5.7 yards on six carries and Mike Tolbert 5.1 on seven rushes. But the Chargers didn't stay with it long enough - part of that was once they fell behind they took to the air. But the run-blocking was better than the pass-blocking, although that is not saying much.
PASS DEFENSE: F - The Chargers' secondary, Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle in particular, got twisted and turned around by Carson Palmer on a regular basis. He threw long, he threw short and he threw screens with ease. Little pass rush gave him plenty of time to pick through his reads.
RUSH DEFENSE: F - An unmitigated disaster as the Chargers got punched in the mouth here and all they had to show for it was a fistful of teeth. Michael Bush was a beast, often running with a head of steam before reaching the linebackers. The Chargers are in serious trouble unless their run defense improves, but with all their injuries, it doesn't look good.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C - Still no return game and Nick Novak even missed a field goal, although it was from 46 yards. A couple returns the Chargers regret; they don't feel bad about P Mike Scifres getting off a 71 yard effort.
COACHING: F - Norv Turner is running out of answers and time. He needs to do something quick as the Chargers aren't playing with much passion, fire - whatever a head coach is supposed to encourage his team to do. The Chargers started like the plan was to run, but quickly fell into a passing attack that didn't work. And talk about failed plans: the Chargers stacked the line to stop Bush and it didn't work. They put in extra defensive backs and that didn't work.