Game Scout: Bengals at Chargers

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at San Diego Chargers (5-6)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
*Keys to the game: The Chargers defense, ranked 29th overall, has nothing closely resembling a good matchup for WR A.J. Green, who is averaging an NFL-high 125 receiving yards on the road this season. San Diego has allowed seven 100-yard receivers this season. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has been erratic, while rookie RB Giovani Bernard is healthy coming off the bye and brings a shifty and reliable target underneath. Chargers TE Antonio Gates will get extra attention from the Bengals, who have allowed one 300-yard passer in their past 25 games. The Bengals' aggressive coverage scheme calls for one-on-one matchups across the board. Not since Jordan Cameron had 10 receptions in Week 4 have the Bengals been significantly dented by tight ends. Chargers QB Philip Rivers can pull the Bengals in tight to track RBs Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews while picking his spots to throw downfield to Gates and rookie WR Keenan Allen.
*Matchup to watch - Bengals CB Adam Jones vs. Allen: With many teams electing to double Gates or place their top corner on him, Allen has benefitted from single coverage. He was targeted 12 times and had nine receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown last week. In four games since Leon Hall's injury, Jones has been targeted 28 times and has allowed only 13 receptions for 124 yards.
*Player spotlight - Bengals LB Rey Maualuga: Back in the heart of the Cincinnati defense just in the nick of time, Maualuga missed the past three games due to a knee injury but is a key to slowing down the rotation of backs the Chargers employ.
*Fast facts - Green is on pace to finish the season with 1,483 yards, which would break Chad Johnson's 2007 team record of 1,440. ... The Chargers are second in the NFL with 25 drives of 10-plus plays.
The Chargers have one win at home, where they play four of their final five games, but four wins against teams in the playoff picture. Cincinnati has been equally unpredictable, but out of the bye week QB Andy Dalton gets back on track to keep the Bengals comfortably atop the AFC North.
*Our pick: Bengals 27-20

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