Home-field disadvantage: Since 2011, the Chargers are 10-11 at home, and they have a 2-3 record this season. That’s not exactly a home-field advantage. At 5-7, the Chargers are a game behind Baltimore (6-6) and Miami (6-6) for the last AFC wild-card spot. San Diego has three of its last four games at home, but the Chargers have to play with more swagger at Qualcomm Stadium, particularly early in games. San Diego had the first NFL blackout of the season on Sunday, and a large group of Cincinnati fans packed the Bengals’ side of the field. The Chargers never led against Cincinnati, and have not had a lead at home since a Week 6 win against Indianapolis.
Secondary play improves: A point of emphasis leading up to the Cincinnati game, the Chargers played better on the back end defensively. San Diego allowed just 190 passing yards, giving up three plays of 20 yards or more. Safety Eric Weddle had perhaps his best game of the season, finishing with six tackles, his first interception of the season, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss. Richard Marshall was solid in his first start of the season replacing Derek Cox. The Chargers did have some breakdowns in coverage that led to a few big plays, but overall the defensive backfield play was improved against a talented Cincinnati receiving group.
No pass rush: The Chargers finished without a sack for just the second time this season. In 23 pass attempts, San Diego’s front seven couldn’t even muster a quarterback pressure against Andy Dalton, who had not been playing well leading up to this game. The Chargers finished with four tackles for loss in the run game, but part of the issue on the back end has been the team’s inability to create consistent pressure with the pass rush.
Woodhead’s disappearing act: Running back Danny Woodhead finished with two receptions for 13 yards, and was targeted just three times against Cincinnati. The only other games this season in which Woodhead was targeted three times or fewer was against Houston (three) and Miami (two) -- both losses for the Chargers. Give credit to the Bengals for taking away Woodhead defensively, but the cat-quick runner is an important part of San Diego’s pass game as a playmaker out of the backfield.