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What to watch for in Bears-Chargers 'MNF' clash

The San Diego Chargers host the Chicago Bears on Monday night in a battle of two-win teams. While the season looks lost for both franchises, there are plenty of reasons to watch this tussle in Southern California -- aside from your fantasy football matchups.

Here are five things we'll be watching tonight:

1. Can Jeremy Langford take over for Matt Forte?

We could be getting a glimpse of Chicago's future without workhorse Matt Forte, a free agent after the season. With Forte (knee) out, the backfield duties will fall largely to Jeremy Langford. The rookie has displayed decent vision and power between the tackles, but lacks the explosiveness Forte brings to the backfield. We also don't know what role Langford will play in the pass game -- he had a big drop last week and his blocking is suspect. Antone Smith, who hasn't seen a backfield snap this season, could play that role on third downs.

2. Will Melvin Gordon finally score a touchdown?

Melvin Gordon has struggled to find his footing in the NFL. Gordon has just 382 rushing yards on 103 carries (3.7 yards per carry). Through eight games, the No. 15 overall pick still hasn't scored his first NFL touchdown. Gordon's 121 touches without a score are the most in the NFL. Marcel Shipp's 258 touches without a TD for the Cardinals in 2003 is the single-season record for most touches without a score. Making matters worse for the rookie, No. 10 overall pick Todd Gurley is on his way to a Rookie of the Year award.

"When he balls out, people look at me like, 'He sucks,'" Gordon said this week, via the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Gordon should have a chance to ball out Monday night. The Bears boast the NFL's 29th-ranked run defense, allowing 128 yards per game on the ground. The blocking has been bad for all running backs in San Diego this season, but we need to see a first-round pick overcome those pitfalls.

With Forte on the shelf this week, I'm expecting Adam Gase to utilize the quick pass attack to Jeffery as an extension of the run game -- with Eddie Royal also out, Jeffery's importance balloons in that area. Jeffery has been a difference-maker for the Bears when he's been healthy this season. The wideout leads the NFL in yards per game (113.7), is third in targets per game (12.3) and fifth in receptions per contest (7.7). He gives Jay Cutler a big body to trust in the red zone. Jason Verrett is questionable with a groin injury. The corner has been studly this season and we expect him to shadow Jeffery, assuming he's healthy enough to play. The game will tilt toward whichever playmaker wins this matchup.

4. Will the Chargers run out of blockers for Philip Rivers?

The San Diego Chargers' offensive line has been a constant stream of blocking wounded. Tackle King Dunlap and center Chris Watt are already ruled out. Guard Orlando Franklin is doubtful. Rivers has done a masterful job overcoming the blocking deficiencies in front of him. The quarterback has five-straight games with 300-plus yards passing and two touchdowns, leading the NFL with 2,753 yards through the air. He'll face a soft Bears pass rush, especially if linebacker Pernell McPhee (questionable, knee) doesn't play.

5. Jay Cutler's silent season of redemption

Flying below the national radar, Cutler has put together a steady season under Adam Gase. The enigmatic quarterback has cut down on his brain cramps, stringing together five-straight games with a passer rating over 85.0 -- the longest of his career. Without Forte to lean on, we'll see if Cutler returns to his gunslinging ways in prime time or remains the stable game manager he's been under Gase.

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