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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wild Card Round Preview: San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

By on 1/04/2014 09:00:00 AM

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday January 5th, 2014 1:05 PM

Paul Brown Stadium

Line: Bengals by 7   

The Cincinnati Bengals host the San Diego Chargers in the first of two wild card matchups on Sunday. The “Cardiac Cats” have not won a playoff game since 1991, and if they don’t do it this Sunday then I don’t think they ever will. The NFL Gods handed the Bengals a gift when officials missed a call on a missed game-winning field goal attempt in Week 17’s matchup between the Chargers and Chiefs which likely would have sent the Pittsburgh Steelers to the playoffs. The Steel City would have been a much tougher out for the Bengals than I believe the Bolts will be.

The Chargers have a nice solid team, but that’s really all they are, and that will not get you far come the postseason. Quarterback Phillip Rivers has had a great year after most of the naysayers wrote him off following a lackluster season in 2012. But nothing else about them really impresses me. Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen made a name for himself this year, catching 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. Running back Ryan Matthews got himself back on track this year after a sub-par 2012 season and tight end Antonio Gates is as consistent as they come. San Diego’s defense is serviceable, but again, nothing to write home about.

The Bengals’ worst enemy in this game might just be themselves. Quarterback Andy Dalton has matured as a signal caller this year, but has still shown flashes of inconsistency. Dalton threw four interceptions despite beating the Baltimore Ravens 34-17 in Week 17. Strangely enough, the Bengals defense may have gotten better after losing their best player in defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and that is a scary thought.

Of all the games this wild card weekend, I’d say this one is the safest game to bet on. It’s now or never for the Who Deys, but I’m leaning towards now.

Final Score: Bengals 31 Chargers 17

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