Sunday’s first wild card game pits the 6th seeded San Diego Chargers against the 3rd seeded Cincinnati Bengals from the ‘Natti. San Diego was the beneficiary of a blown non-call last week at home vs. Kansas City that allowed the game to go into an extra session due to a shanked Succop chippy, while Cincinnati stayed perfect at home by blowing the doors off the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.
SD CHARGERS – BENGALS WILDCARD PLAYOFF GAME LINE:
OPEN: BENGALS -6.5 | CURRENT: BENGALS -7 | O/U: 46.5
1. Why the CHARGERS will cover the spread: Coach McCoy’s squad has been in playoff form for the better part of the last month with the team needing to win as many games as possible and hoping the trio of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Miami all stumbled. Though the club grossly failed to cover the closing number against a bunch of Kansas City back-ups last Sunday, Rivers and his mates found a way to win the game in overtime and punch their ticket into the playoffs. The win was the team’s fourth straight and momentum is something you certainly want on your side in the second season.
QB Andy Dalton has been an enigma all season long. You never know what you’re going to get with the “Red Rocket,” and the Chargers poor pass defense limited him to just a 14-of-23 showing for 190 yards and a 1:1 TD/INT ratio when the teams met in Qualcomm back in Week 13.
2. Why the BENGALS will cover the spread: The Bengals have been there and done that. This afternoon’s match-up with the Chargers will mark the third time in the L/4 seasons that they’ve partaken in wild card betting festivities. They came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard in all three instances versus the Jets and the Texans twice, so you can bet your bottom dollar that head coach Marvin Lewis’ troops will come to play on Sunday. On top of that, the Bengals were HAM at home all season long in winning all eight of their games played while covering the closing number each time; they won by an average of 17.6 PPG!
Cincy gouged SD’s better than average run defense for 164 yards a couple weeks back, and if it can do that again in front of the hometown faithful, it will open up some passing lanes for Dalton to do some damage with his favorite target A.J. Green.
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3. Total Talk: The Chargers were an ‘under’ team with it cashing in nine of their 16 regular season tussles; five of those low scorers came away from Qualcomm Stadium. On the flipside, Cincinnati was one of the best ‘over’ commodities of the year with the club playing to high scorers in 10 of their 16 games; the ‘over’ cashed in six of their eight games played at Paul Brown Stadium. Though these squads played to a low score in the first go round, the ‘over’ is 7-2-2 in the L/11 meetings and 4-0-1 the L/5 times they locked horns near the banks of the Ohio River.
4. Betting Trends for CHARGERS/BENGALS: San Diego is one of the biggest unknowns in the playoffs. Nobody expected them to be here, and many think they got in dirty due to the referee gaffe at the end of their game with the Chiefs. That said, I like the fight on this team. If not for monumental collapses against Houston and Tennessee at the beginning of the season, they could be hosting this game! All the pressure will be on the shoulders of the Bengals in this one with them predicted and expected to be here.
This one all comes down to QB play, and if you’re going to give me a TD worth of points with Rivers who had himself a remarkable bounce back campaign, I’m going to take ‘em without even thinking twice. The road team has covered six of these non-divisional rivals L/7 overall meetings, and SD has covered each of its l/4 on the road against +.500 home teams. Don’t be shocked if SD hands Cincy its fourth straight wild card round defeat!
Cincinnati 28 – San Diego 27