Chargers at Bengals: Position by Position Preview

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Wide Receivers:

The Chargers have some talented wide receivers. Keenan Allen had a great season (71 rec, 1,046 yds, 8 TDs), is my pick for the offensive ROY and will be a handful for the Bengals secondary (8 for 106 in their first meeting).

Eddie Royal had a good year (47 rec, 631 yds, 8 TDs) and is a nice compliment to Allen. With that being said, the Chargers receivers are not on the level of the Bengals receivers in talent, size or quantity. The Chargers did a good job on Green and company in San Diego, but I wouldn’t expect the same in Cincinnati.

With Hawkins back and contributing, the Chargers will find it necessary to cover 4 talented receivers…along with 2 big tight ends and a speedy back. I expect the Bengals receivers to expose a weak Chargers secondary.

Advantage: Bengals

Tight Ends:

Giving the Bengals the edge here may seem odd when looking at the numbers, but hear me out. While Antonio Gates will go down as one of the best tight ends in NFL history and he is still effective (77 rec, 872 yds, 4 TDs), he is 33 years old, has suffered a number of leg injuries and clearly is not the player he once was.

The once game-changing tight end is now big and slow and has to rely on veteran savviness to get open and is certainly capable of being covered by line backers and safeties. In their first matchup, the Bengals held Gates to 5 rec for 41 yards, forced him to fumble and took an interception from him.

Aug. 24, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green (89) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While Ladarius Green is a big TE that had some success against the Bengals (2 rec, 45 yds, 1 TD), he had just 1 catch in the 4 games since. The Bengals on the other hand, feature 2 tight ends both capable of creating matchup issues for line backers and safeties, and while Gates numbers alone nearly match those of the Bengals 2 tight ends combined (85 receptions, 906 yards, 6 TDs), 1 slow 6’4” tight end is much easier to cover than 2 young fast 6’6” tight ends…especially when you also have to worry about covering Green, Jones and Bernard as well.

In their first matchup, the Bengals barely used their TE’s at all (1 rec, 9 yds, 3 targets), I wouldn’t expect the same in Cincinnati.

Advantage: Bengals