AFC Wild Card: Chargers at Bengals

AFC Wild Card: Chargers at Bengals

With assistance from the Ravens, Dolphins, and boneheaded officials, the Chargers find themselves in the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Bengals are making their third consecutive trip to the playoffs, but haven’t won a January game since 1990. This will be a rematch of a Week 13 showdown won by Cincinnati 17-10 in San Diego. Vegas doesn’t appear confident the Bolts can spring the upset. Here’s a preview.

Chargers at Bengals (-7)

Mike McCoy isn’t going to win Coach of the Year or get many votes, but he is deserving of consideration. His quarterback-friendly system resurrected Philip Rivers’ career and has turned rookie receiver Keenan Allen and oft-dinged running back Ryan Mathews into reliable offensive weapons. Rivers led the league in completion percentage at 69.5%, which is the 6th highest in NFL history. Rivers tossed for 252 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in the first meeting. Despite injuries, the Bengals secondary ranks 5th versus the pass. The Bolts pass defense is 29th overall, but they haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer since Week 10. San Diego is 4-3-1 ATS on the road.

The Bengals have scored have at least 34 points in five straight home victories. During that stretch, And Dalton threw 17 of his career high 33 touchdowns. Dalton is maddeningly inconsistent, but he is usually at his best in Paul Brown Stadium. The duo of A.J. Green and Marvin Jones combined for 21 scores. Rookie running back Giovani Bernard totaled 1209 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. If used properly, he can present matchup problems for any defense, and San Diego yielded 81 yards and two touchdowns to Knile Davis in last week’s must-win game against the Kansas City B team. The aggressive Bengals D notched 43 sacks and 20 interceptions, so Rivers must be smart with the ball in his hands. Cincinnati is 8-0 ATS at home.

Even though the Bengals have been unbeatable and dominant at home, trusting Dalton isn’t easy; he has zero touchdowns and four picks in two career playoff games. That said, Cincinnati is the better team. They win and cover.