After a thrilling victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week, the Chargers are back in the playoff picture. They have a ways to go, so a win at home against the Bengals in this spot is imperative. Philip Rivers connected on a 26-yard pass to Seyi Ajirotutu in a high scoring affair where they capped off an improbable 41-38 win over the Chiefs. The Chiefs in a sandwich spot between Bronco games, looked anything like the team we were accustomed to seeing throughout the season. It was a game the Chargers desperately needed, going into that one with three straight losses, dropping it would have maybe rejected them of having any chance to make the playoffs. At 5-6 it is unlikely they will to begin with, they’ll need to play mistake free down the stretch while hoping other teams lose.
The Bengals on the other hand are a difficult team to get a read on. It really is the same story with them, win a big game then produce a stinker the next week against a team they should beat. Cincinnati is first in the AFC North, so their destiny is in their own hands. It is a story of two tales with the Bengals, they seem unbeatable at home, but have had their share of troubles on the road at 2-4 in 2013. The only two wins came against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions in a game that could have went either way. Consequently, the Bengals haven’t had any impressive showings away from home. This will be their last road game before going to Pittsburgh on December 15th before finishing up the schedule with two games at home. Thus, the Bengals are running out of time proving they can win a road game. It would be a good start today against the Chargers.
Bengals vs. Chargers Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals +1(-110)
@San Diego Chargers -1(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Bengals vs. Chargers Pick:
When you think Bengals you think Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Many think of how the Bengals have one of the best receivers in the game; however, it isn’t the offense that should be getting most of the attention. The defense has been carrying the team for the most part. With a defense ranked 6th against the pass and 10th defending the run, they are one of the better units in the NFL. In addition, it hasn’t been the defense that’s been letting them down on the road, they’ve been holding teams to low scores, but the offense has let them down. In their last two road games against the Dolphins and Ravens, the Bengals scored 20 and 17, both losses coming in overtime. The most they scored was 27 in Detroit against the Lions. I think the Bengals will go as far as Andy Dalton will take them. I don’t find him to be a consistent enough quarterback to take them to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, he is better than a lot out there, but getting them where they want to go, which is the AFC Championship, he’ll need to be more consistent in his outings. This is a glorious chance for Dalton to succeed on the road, as he’ll be facing a defense that is 28th against the pass.
The Chargers are 28th against the pass in yards allowed per game, but have generally done well holding teams out of the end zone. They surrender 23.6 a game, which is right in the middle at 15th in the NFL. Given the struggles of Dalton on the road, will he be able to take advantage of the Chargers’ weakness? That is the key to this game, which really how it is with every Cincinnati game on the road. The Bengal offense ranks 10th overall in the league, but take away the home games and they dip much further back in that respect. The Chargers’ offense is surprisingly 5th in the NFL in yards per game, as they’ve gotten a pretty good balance with Philip Rivers and the running game. They are ahead of offensive teams such as the Bears, Patriots, Cowboys as far as yards per game is concerned.
I find it difficult to back the Bengals and Dalton on the road. They have given me no reason why I should take them on the road, so I’m not ready to here. Travelling out to the west coast doesn’t help the situation any. On paper this is a game that the Bengals should win, no doubt about that. But the Chargers are more than capable of winning the game. Rivers is having himself a career year, passing for 3381 yards and 22 touchdowns with a rather big 106.6 quarterback rating. They fought the Broncos hard a few weeks ago, a game in which they hung around the whole game. The Chargers should put out a similar effort after catching some momentum from a big win against the Chiefs a week ago. Small play on the Chargers for Sunday afternoon.
PICK: Chargers -1(-110)