SAN DIEGO – Good morning. Bill Barnwell of Grantland identifies three paths of victory for the San Diego Chargers in an underdog role traveling to Cincinnati in this AFC wild- card game – win in a shootout, coax Andy Dalton into turnovers and the Bengals surprisingly struggling at home in Paul Brown Stadium, a place they’ve been dominant all season.
Here are Barnwell’s final thoughts on the game.
“The battle up front will be the most important matchup of all. If the Bengals can knock the Chargers up, down, and around in the trenches, I honestly can't imagine the Chargers winning this game. Their defense isn't good enough to stop the Bengals from running the football if the offensive line gets going, and it will take a perfect game from Rivers to win if his offensive line can't keep the Bengals at bay. Then again, it basically required a perfect month from the Chargers (and the teams around them) to get San Diego into the playoffs, and that's exactly what happened, so you would forgive the Chargers for feeling like they shouldn't be counted out right about now.”
In this ESPN Insider piece, K.C. Joyner says don’t be surprised if the Bengals reach the Super Bowl. He believes that Cincinnati is the AFC’s most complete team right now.
ESPN Bengals beat reporter Coley Harvey reports that cornerback Terence Newman (knee) is doubtful, while defensive end Wallace Gilberry (concussion) and tight ends Tyler Eifert (neck) and Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) are questionable.
NFL Playbook previews the Chargers-Bengals matchup in this video.
Jake Liscow of Pro Football Focus provides three matchups to focus on for San Diego’s game at Cincinnati – King Dunlap vs. Michael Johnson, San Diego’s defensive front seven vs. San Diego’s O-line and Andy Dalton vs. Philip Rivers.
Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes that Ryan Mathews bought all of his offensive linemen Gucci watches for helping him rush for over 100 yards six times this season.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com gives us his three keys to the Chargers-Bengals matchup.