By disassembling both chargers (6-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) match heading into their game Sunday at 10:00 AM PT at Paul Brown Stadium. The game will air on CBS.
When the Chargers are in possession of the ball: Justin Herbert is struggling to bounce back after the fourth quarter, during which he intercepted Denver twice, midfielder Patrick Surtain II in Week 12. Austin Ekeler got the second of those interceptions, but the pass was slightly behind the early defender. Cincinnati tied for 12th in the NFL with 10 interceptions, two of which came over the weekend against Pittsburgh. Only five teams have lost fewer points per game than the Bengals, who have limited four of their last six opponents to 17 or fewer. But in those two games, Cincinnati lost to quarterback Mike White and the New York Jets 34-31 and were down 41 points to Cleveland. So who can be sure which version of Bengals is coming Sunday? The Chargers’ offense occurred at times throughout the season, often due to the fact that it was difficult for them to survive in the current match. Cincinnati is ranked fifth in the NFL against running, which means Ekeler can fight for his racing yards again. The Chargers beat Bengals away 16-13 early last season, but now both teams have improved their offensive significantly. It is unlikely that 16 points will win this time.
When the Bengals have the ball: After beating the Steelers last weekend, Joe Burrow made 20 of 24 tries for 190 yards and landed and also ran through. “He can do a lot of winning draws when he has few points in his pocket,” said Chargers coach Brandon Staley. “If the original game doesn’t have a lot of violations, he can move and create.” The Bengals have averaged 73 points in their last two games and the Chargers are down to 29th in the league in defense performance. Burrow’s main targets are the wide-ranging successors of Ja’Marr Chase, T Higgins and Tyler Boyd, as well as CJ Uzom’s bid. But the biggest challenge for the Chargers may be the flight of Joe Mixon, who is the hardest to catch in the NFL. Mixon leads the league with 19 tackles and fourth in yards from contact. Pick a runner, Staley said, and he’s as good as any of them. The chargers found it difficult to stop running, due to poor technique, alignment and grip, which were most often referred to as problems. The Bengals are expected to force Staley’s defense to prove they can slow Mixon down. Denver set an early tone against the Chargers a week ago with 108 yards in the first half.
When kicked: Dustin Hopkins has seven of eight field goals and 12 of 13 extra points for the Chargers. He missed a 52-yard attempt last weekend. In the spring in the fifth round, Cincinnati picked Evan McPherson from Florida. Rookie has 17 of 20 shots for a field goal and 34 of 35 extra points. He made his last 12 shots for a field goal.
Jeff Miller’s prediction: The Bengals played solid matches in a row, deftly beating Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. What are the odds that they will play their third solid game in a row this season in the NFL with incredible ups and downs? Better than the Chargers winning chances.
BENGALS 35, CHARGERS 27