The Cincinnati Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1991 and their current head coach has coached for a decade. Will Marvin Lewis finally break through this Sunday afternoon?
AFC Wild Card Game - Sunday, January 5th
San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals
NFL Football Odds: Bengals -6.5
The Chargers can win because…
They are an up-and-down team that can play really well on any given day, often after playing poorly the previous week. There’s just no rhyme or reason with the Chargers. This is the team that won at Kansas City and Denver, but it’s also the team that lost at home to the Houston Texans and on the road to the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. The Chargers veer from brilliance to ineptitude in fairly short order, and this makes them one of the more maddening teams to follow in the NFL. Yet, San Diego, after playing a shaky game against the Kansas City Chiefs’ backups this past Sunday, has found its way to the playoffs, anyway. The Chargers could definitely become the kind of team that doesn’t play consistently in the regular season but then lucks into the playoffs and, given this new life, seizes the opportunity. San Diego could feel that it has been given new life, and when a team feels liberated in that way, it can become a very happy and properly motivated group. San Diego should be able to approach this game with great enthusiasm and energy. If quarterback Philip Rivers and his teammates on offense can steer clear of the turnovers that killed the Chargers against the Bengals in the regular season matchup (2013) between these teams, San Diego has an excellent chance of winning. After all, if San Diego doesn’t give away the ball, Cincinnati might.
Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton threw four interceptions this past Sunday against Baltimore. The Bengals won, but they are anything but fully confident that Dalton is the answer for them under center. If Dalton throws at least two interceptions (other than end-of-half Hail Mary heaves or something to that effect…), San Diego will probably find itself in a very advantageous position. The fact that all the pressure and expectations lie with the Bengals in this game will make it even easier for San Diego to play freely and cause Cincinnati to panic at some point.
The Bengals can win because…
They have the better team. Even when the Bengals haven’t played well in recent weeks, they’ve still crushed opponents. They beat Baltimore by 17 points despite the four interceptions thrown by Dalton. They didn’t really play well against San Diego four weeks ago, but their defense came up with turnovers inside the Bengals’ 30-yard line to preserve a 17-10 victory. Cincinnati simply has a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball who can instantly change the way in which a game is played. If Cincinnati’s offense (Dalton in particular) puts things together, this team becomes a Super Bowl contender, because it has that much talent on hand.
Outlook & NFL Football Betting Prediction:
The Chargers might not win, but they’re a very good bet to cover the point spread. San Diego left a lot of points on the field in the first meeting with Cincinnati this season. It’s logical to think that San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers will be better than he was against the Bengals on Dec. 1. Cincinnati, meanwhile, just has too many questions at quarterback. San Diego will get multiple turnovers and not only cover on the betting lines but win outright.
NFL Football Picks: Chargers +6.5