Coming off a great comeback win in the season opener against the Detroit Lions, the San Diego Chargers will face another tough test on the road in Cincinnati. Coming off numerous record setting performances, Philip Rivers and the Chargers look to take care of business on their first road game of 2015.
When: Sunday, September 20th 10:00 am PT
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Betting: Cincinnati (-3.5)
The Chargers lead the overall series matchup 20-14 and are 10-7 all-time in Cincinnati. The Chargers edged the Bengals two years ago in the 2013 AFC Wildcard playoffs, also Cinci. The other playoff matchup in their history was the famous “Freezer Bowl” game, where the Bengals beat the Chargers in the AFC Championship game in 1982. (Boooo)
Can Philip Rivers get any hotter? All he did was complete 83% (35/42) of his passes and throw for 2 TD’s, including completing his last 20 passes. He’ll be looking to keep it going against a solid defense and on the road no less. But Rivers has weapons, on weapons, on weapons this season and there’s so many people who can beat the defense. Keenan Allen set franchise records for receptions and receiving yards in the game last year with 15 receptions for 166 yards. Steven Johnson and Ladarius Green caught touchdowns as well.
Melvin Gordon ran decisively but did fumble in a key moment the second half. Look for the Chargers to keep feeding him while he gets his feet wet. But who I’m looking at for another big game is Danny Woodhead. He had both rushing touchdowns last week and will be needed in the passing game as the Bengals possess some tough corners. Coach McCoy also trusts Woodhead more as the goaline back even though his smaller stature, so look for him to sneak behind the massive O-line and scamper into the endzone again on Sunday.
The offensive line certainly took a blow already in the game last week. D.J. Fluker will miss at least a month and up to six weeks with a high-ankle sprain. A tough blow for the right side of the line but Chris Hairston did play well coming in for him in the third. The 6′ 6″ 330 pounder will get the start on Sunday and all eyes will be on him to see how he performs for a whole game. The Chargers also brought back OL Kenny Wiggins and he’ll be on the active roster this week.
The Chargers’ corner shut down the top two weapons on the outside in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. They held them to just 6 catches for 53 combined! They face another tough matchup with A.J Green, Marvin Jones and the emergence of Tyler Eifert will put pressure on the linebackers in coverage.
Speaking of linebackers, Kyle Emanuel looks like the real deal. He had an athletic interception after Stafford was destroyed by Melvin Ingram. He will need get pressure on Andy Dalton and contain Jeremy Hill from getting outside. The front 4 of the Chargers will need to open up lanes for the linebackers to fill the gaps as stopping Jeremy Hill should be first priority for the Chargers D. Let Andy Dalton try and beat you through the air and try to challenge the talented secondary of the Bolts.
The Bengal’s offense exploded last week against the Oakland Raiders, but then again who’s offense doesn’t. This offense runs through Jeremy Hill with the ground and pound approach but Dalton can expose a weak secondary with the like of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, their 6′ 6″ tight end from Notre Dame who missed all of last season with an elbow injury. Look for Jeremy Hill to get close to 20 carries and his running mate Gio Bernard to get some passes out of the backfield. This is a talented offense and the Chargers’ defense will have to play well like last Sunday.
The Bengals will once again have a strong defense in 2015. Geno Atkins is one of the most talented defensive tackles and Chris Hairston could have his hands full if he is lined up against him, starting in the place of D.J Fluker. Their secondary is also talented group that features veteran Adam “Pacman” Jones, Leon Hall and Darqueze Dennard.
Jones was fined $35,000 this week after taking off Raiders’ receiver Amari Coopers helmet and then banging his head into it. He probably should have been ejected from the game. The Chargers aren’t going to be taking any his antics so that will be something to look for during the game. A.J Hawk will patrol the middle of the field for the Bengals in his first year with the team after spending his whole career in Green Bay.
What we’re watching:
I’m looking forward to watching how Donald Butler and Manti Te’o stop the talented rushing attack of the Bengals. They’ll need to do a good job wrapping up on tackles or else Jeremy Hill will have a field day. Once he gets to the second and third level he’s almost impossible to stop with his unique combination of speed and strength. It will be imperative these guys have a monster game flying side line to sideline as tackling machines. I also can’t wait to see what Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson have in store this week as an encore of week 1.
Chargers defense holds late and they pull off the slim victory 24-21 GO Bolts!!!