When the Chargers Throw the Ball:
Chargers Passing Attack: 4th – 296.9 ypg
Bengals Pass Defense: 6th – 211.1 ypg
After 2 subpar years (53 TDs and 55 Turnovers), Rivers is having a career resurgence in 2013 – 3,381 yards, 22 TDs and only 8 INTs (0 fumbles) – and is on pace for his best season of his career (statistically anyways). Rivers has found a new #1 in rookie Keenan Allen (50 receptions, 737 yards, 3 TDS), a reliable veteran slot receiver in Eddie Royal (34 receptions, 484 yards, 7 TDs), and though Gates is not the player he once was, he is still a reliable safety outlet that can move the chains (59 receptions, 685 yards, 3 TDs).
On top of that, with Woodhead, Rivers finally has the shifty back out of the backfield he has lacked since LT’s departure. These weapons, combined with a line that ranks 4th in surrendering sacks (20) has sparked the Chargers passing attack from 24th in 2012 to 4th in 2013 and back into playoff contention for the first time in years. The Bengals corners have played well, but with Hall, Lamur and Taylor out for the year and Burfict on a gimpy ankle, the Bengals are going to need help from their defensive line and getting pressure on Rivers.
Though the Bengals rank 6th with 34 sacks, getting to Rivers is going to be a tall task against a solid Chargers offensive line yielding less than 2 sacks per game (20). If the Bengals can get to Rivers, I think they have the advantage in this matchup. If they cannot, Rivers could have a big day. With the game on the west coast, I am giving the nod to the Chargers here.