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Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 01-Dec-2013

They say history repeats itself and if that is the case this weekend, the Chargers could be in for a rough day against Cincinnati down in southern California. 

A year ago and about one week following the Thanksgiving holiday, andy Dalton led his Bengals into S.D. and came away with a tough and low scoring win following a Phillip Rivers interception in the end zone with less than 30 seconds left to play.

Dalton brings his Bengals back out this year and, while they are not exactly as "hot" as they were a season ago entering this matchup, they do hold some advantageous positions in this game.

Situationally speaking, San Diego comes off perhaps its biggest win of the year, a thrilling 41-38 victory in Arrowhead Stadium over the then 9-1 Chiefs. The win puts them in far better position than a week ago with regard to the likelihood of them grabbing a second wild card. It gives their season new life and more hope.

It will be difficult to regroup off a shootout win as crazy as the one they were just a part of and, making it even more difficult, is the nature of their opponent. The chargers have seriously struggled in the area of pass defense, a factor which made the K.C. matchup manageable. 

This Bengals team has one of the better aerial attacks in the league and it should be on display today. The game last year was  20-13 nail biter as the result of the efficiency of both defenses. San diego was able to control the line of scrimmage and neutralize the Bengals ground game for much of the day en route to a low scoring firs half.

Dalton opened things up a bit in the second session and the results were positive. San Diego's secondary will be without several crucial components to last season's success, namely in the form of Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. They also lose their quarterback, Takeo Spikes, from that team. While Manti T'eo has played well, he might not be fully read or experienced enough to make the calls out there given the vast nature of Cincy's weaponry. 

San Diego linebackers haven't been great in coverage this year, and the Bengals come into Qualcomm with a trio of weapons in the short and intermediate passing games. Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham are not easy to control for many opposing linebacker/safety combos and that will be the case again here.

More importantly could be the massive mismatches on the perimeter. A.J. Green was kept in check by the aforementioned San diego corners a year ago. This season, the Derek Cox / Shareece Wright combo lacks the size and physicality to match up with Green. Whoever is assigned to him will undoubtedly require safety assistance and that makes for an even more difficult time in dealing with the underneath options.

Phillip Rivers is playing lights out and this could be where San Diego starts to turn it on a bit. But given that Cincinnati enters this game off a bye and has a lot left to play for themselves, it's guaranteed to be a dogfight. The Bengals sits atop their own division but need to keep the pedal on the metal as Baltimore continues to scrap its way toward the division lead.

The Bengals defense has struggled a bit in the wake of losing Geno Atkins for the year, but they have rebounded well. They still boast one of the better defensive lines in the league and I expect them to have the ability and opportunity to attack Rivers and the weak offensive tackles of San Diego with regularity here.

This line opened with the Chargers as small favorites and has since moved the other way despite majority action siding with the home team. you have to like taking a scrappy bunch like Cincy as they come off a bye and get to play a team with legitimate question marks and matchup problems in this game. 

Bengals -1