San Diego Chargers (6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3)
by Ryan Kramer and Sean Green
Time: Sunday Jan 5th @ 10:05 AM Pacific
Weather: 36° F w/ Snow and light wind
Radio: Westwood One (Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Tony Boselli)
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
Total: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Spread: Bengals -6.5
State Your Case: San Diego Chargers
Matchup: Philip Rivers vs Cincinnati Defense. Phillip Rivers is having a career year and deserves his Pro Bowl nomination. Great QBs are like great hitters in baseball, they get better the second time around and I expect a big improvement in Rivers’ game from the last time against the Bengals. The first time Rivers played the Broncos at home he had a QB Rating of 99.5, the second game in Denver it jumped to 120 and I expect a similar improvement against Cincinnati, look for the feisty Rivers to keep this team in the game from beginning to end.
Situation: Is this the year Cincinnati finally takes the next step? The Bengals are the biggest favorite of the weekend and are facing immense pressure at home against a Chargers team who is coming in red hot winning their last four games. Chargers are coming in playing fast and loose which is dangerous for a big home favorite.
Stats: 69.5. That’s Philip Rivers completion percentage in combination with an amazing 8.2 yards per attempt. Dalton is coming off a 4 INT game and if the Chargers can win the turnover battle, the Chargers efficient offense will be able to take advantage.
Donkey Trend: Bengals are 5-0 ATS vs a team with a winning record, however that ignores the rematch aspect of this game. Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the Bengals were unable to beat any of these teams twice.
Sharp Trend: Things will be cold in Cincinnati, but Philip Rivers is 9-2 in freezing temperatures and unlike the Bengals fans Rivers will show up Sunday.
State Your Case: Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup: Cincy will score, thats a given, as they have averaged just short of 35 pts per game. For that reason the key matchup is Cincy D vs San Diego O. The Bengals D doesn’t have to be great, just good. The Bengals have a stellar pass D and this will lead Mike Mccoy to try to establish the run; Cincy will be ready for it leading to a long day for Rivers and the O. Look for the Bengals D to be fired up at home to give Rivers fits all day.
Situation: The Bengals are catching a team in a vulnerable position. The Chargers had a very emotionally draining game last week vs the Chiefs and their backups, almost losing the game multiple times, before snatching the win in OT. And most importantly the Bengals are at home where they are 8-0 SU and 8-0 ATS.
Stats: The stats show how these teams are in a way inverse mirror images of themselves. While Cincy has an average overall offense (13th WEI DVOA) and San Diego has a very good overall offense (4th WEI DVOA). It’s the red zone offense that I am going to focus on as it will be a major factor in the game. The Bengals offense goes from average to awesome in the red zone boasting the 3rd best red zone offense, as compared to the Chargers where their great overall offense drops all the way to 13th in the red zone. The Bengals will be happy to trade TDs for FGs all day. *For more on DVOA check out the Football Outsiders
Donkey Trend: The last 4 Super Bowl champions took part in the Eagles home opener. Guess who traveled to Philly for the home opener this year? You nailed it: The San Diego Chargers. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills
Sharp Trend: Other than Bengals 8-0 ATS, I really like the fact that the Chargers are 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 games following a win. New coach and a team has issues staying focused…I’m not surprised.
Ryan’s Pick: Bengals -6.5.
Ryan’s Score: Bengals 27 – Chargers 13.
Ryan’s Bonus: AJ Green Longest Reception Over 27.5 yards.
Sean’s Pick: Chargers +6.5.
Sean’s Score: Chargers 27 – Bengals 24.
Sean’s Bonus: Team to score last: Chargers +125.
Listen to the latest edition of the Sports Gambling Podcast for an entire Wild Card Weekend breakdown.
Ryan Kramer and Sean Green are writers and co-hosts for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow the show on twitter @GamblingPodcast.
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