This week the San Diego Chargers find themselves in another must-win situation. They find themselves going up against the Jekyll and Hyde Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals lead the AFC North with a 7-4 record but have had a few disappointing outings this season. The Chargers, who have been inconsistent themselves, hope that the Bengals are out of sync this week as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This game will present several interesting matchups that will go a long way to determine the outcome of the game.
First, A.J. Green battling Derek Cox could spell trouble for the Chargers. Green is a stud receiver who consistently makes big plays. Cox is an average corner at best, and he consistently gives up big plays. Last week, he gave up two huge plays to Donnie Avery, both well over 20 yards. Double coverage will be mandatory if the Chargers plan on slowing down Green.
A matchup that maybe overlooked but will be crucial for the Chargers to exploit will be Danny Woodhead on the Bengals linebackers. The Bengals linebacker core struggles in coverage. Woodhead, who is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, should be able to find holes in their coverage quite easily.
Rookie Keenan Allen has put his name in the offensive rookie of the year conversation and continued strong play this week will only help his cause. He will be going up against Adam Jones and Terence Newman. Neither of the two are considered shutdown corners but they are not to be taken lightly. Newman has had a solid season, and Jones is still a ball hawk when he has the chance. Allen will need to run crisp, clean, and precise routes to have success against them.
The game should be a close one and the difference could be a whether the Chargers can stop the big play. The Bengals have several ways to get chunk yardage. They run screens with Giovani Bernard. They create matchup problems with two quality tight ends, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Their most dangerous big play options may be their version of the “wildcat” offense. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was a quarterback in college and he uses those abilities in the “wildcat” and on trick plays. He has been efficient in getting the ball downfield when asked to throw the ball.
If the Chargers can find a way to get a few stops and continue to play well on offense, they could find themselves back at .500 when the game is over.
photo courtesy: Sean M. Haffey