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Wild Card Weekend: Bengals Favored Over Chargers

San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals AFC Wild Card Preview

Kick-Off Time: Sunday, January 5th 2014 at 1:05pm ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
TV Network: Watch Live on CBS

The San Diego Chargers (9-7) reeled off four straight wins to end the regular season and earn a wild card spot. They now have to try and earn a win on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) who were able to runaway with the AFC North down the stretch.

San Diego only finished the AFC West in 3rd place, but it was good enough due to the struggles of other AFC teams. The Ravens and the Dolphins both lost their last two games and finished the season 8-8, which allowed SD to overtake them in the wild card race.

SD vs. CIN Wild Card Betting Lines

Odds at Bovada Mobile Sportsbook.

Cincinnati is a 7-point favorite to beat the Chargers at home, which in a playoff game seems a bit high. The over/under is 47 points and that’s not likely to move too much before Sunday. I wouldn’t bet on the ML, as Cincy has no value and SD isn’t likely to win SU.

CIN vs. SD Injury Report

San Diego is healthy coming into this match-up. Ryan Matthews and Eddie Royal missed practise, but will play. Cincy is dealing with injuries to their o-line and at TE. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert both missed last week and won’t be 100% by Sunday.

Why the Chargers Will Cover the Point Spread

These two played each other back on December 1st (Week 13) and the Bengals won 17-10 in San Diego. The game was a bit sloppy, as both teams had multiple turnovers. Philip Rivers outplayed Andy Dalton, but it wasn’t enough to pick up the win.

San Diego comes into this match-up with an edge on offense, but the Bengals defense is much stronger. The Chargers are averaging 24.8 PPG (12th), 270.5 PYPG (4th) and 122.8 RYPG (13th). Rivers has put up huge numbers including 4478 passing yards and 32 TD’s.

Andy Dalton put up similar passing yards (4293) and TD’s (33) as Rivers, but he has 20 INT’s compared to 11 INT’s by Rivers. Cincy is averaging 26.9 PPG (7th), 258.5 PYPG (8th) and 109.7 RYPG (18th). Cincy scored TD’s on 73.91% (2nd) of their red zone opportunities.

The big question will be whether Rivers can beat this Bengals defense on the road where SD only has a 4-4 record. The Bengals rank 5th in passing yards allowed (209 PYPG), rushing yards allowed (96.5 RYPG) and points allowed (19.1 PPG), which is very impressive.

Dalton should have better luck than Rivers, as SD only has the 29th ranked passing defense (258.7 PYPG). However, last time these two played about a month ago Dalton only completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 190 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

SD is better at stopping the rush (107.8 RYPG – 12th) and they’re only allowing 21.8 PPG (11th), which isn’t bad considering how many passing yards they give up to opposing teams. On paper this game pits a good offense playing a very tough defense.

I’m expecting the Chargers offense to continue rolling. Since losing to the Bengals the Chargers have gone 4-0 and outscored their opponents 117-71 and that includes wins over the Broncos and Chiefs, so it’s not like SD had an easy route down the stretch.

Dalton is 0-2 in the playoffs and he has struggled immensely in both games. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass in the playoffs yet and he has tossed 4 INT’s. Rivers is 3-4 in the playoffs, but SD hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2009 and this year Rivers has been on fire.

Chargers @ Bengals Best Bet

I don’t think the Bengals will lose this game, but I expect Rivers to keep it close enough to cover this big spread. Cincinnati is 8-0 at home including a perfect 8-0 ATS mark. They’re statistically the best home team in the NFL season, which most people don’t know.

However, Rivers will find a way to beat this defense for some big plays and I also don’t trust Dalton. He’ll end up causing turnovers, which in turn will give the Chargers short fields to work with. I don’t expect too much scoring and lean to the under 47 points.

ScottThis article was written by Scott

Scott is one of the original degenerates working for MobileSportsBetting.com. Although he's most successful betting on NFL football and international soccer, he's also active in UFC and NHL hockey betting.

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