For the Bengals to continue their playoff run, they’ll have to survive a trip to the west coast. There, they’ll face a Chargers team that limited Baltimore to just 13 regulation points.
To clear up a common misconception this year, the Chargers are not a bad team. It is a team that has fallen victim to several close games going the opposite way. Namely, the Ravens, Broncos (twice), Saints, and Browns. Even the Buccaneers match was a close game until Philip Rivers threw the late interception.
If any play could sum up the Chargers season, it happened last week against Baltimore. On 4th down, and 29 yards to go, Joe Flacco completed a dump pass to Ray Rice, who promptly sprinted thirty yards downfield.
The Chargers had a chance to close it out, and couldn’t, which hold true for many of their losses. A 24-0 lead against the Broncos fell apart, and they couldn’t find the play to close out the Buccaneers game.
Their record stands at 4-7, but they could easily be 6-5 right now, and in a very similar position that Cincinnati finds itself in this week.
Of course, records can’t be changed.
There are several things the Bengals need to do in order to avoid a loss in San Diego. The first is to utilize the passing game efficiently. The Chargers are ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, but only 19th against the pass.
Cincinnati will want to use the quick pass to open things up, and gradually open the playbook to include more running plays, and deep passes. This is a tactic that will effectively stretch the middle of the field, which will compliment more runs in between the tackles by BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the second half.