Like many of the teams the Bengals face in the AFC North, the Chargers go with a base 3-4 defense. However, unlike the 3-4 defenses the Bengals see in AFC North, the Chargers 3-4 defense is nowhere near as effective.
The Chargers come into PBS with the 23rd ranked defense 29th against the pass and 12th against the run. That is music to the Bengals ears. The Chargers have only 12.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble from their DL.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are ranked 3rd overall on defense, 5th against the pass and 5th against the run. The strength of the Bengals defense is their line, where even without Atkins, the Bengals rank 10th in sacks (43) and have gotten 23 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed by their line.
Aug 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler (56) on the sidelines during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The lack of play makers on the Chargers defense is really apparent at the linebacker position. The Chargers top 6 LBs have 239 tackles…or just 68 more than Burfict alone. The Bengals top 4 LBs have 334 tackles and should be able to match up well against SDs TEs.
The danger for the Bengals is getting a LB (especially Maualuga) matched up against Woodhead. The Chargers, however, have to worry about their LBs matched up against the Bengals TEs, as well as Hawkins, Bernard or Sanu. When it boils down to it, the Chargers have an underwhelming line backing corps.
The Bengals have the NFL’s leading tackler (Burfict), a former Defensive POY (Harrison) and two guys (Maualuga and Rey) that have had pretty good 2013 campaigns.