Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals: 1. Ride the Emotion
– Without a doubt, last Sunday’s win against the Kansas City Chiefs was an emotional one. Many players spoke afterward how it is the type of victory that can spur a team on to a special streak. Now, the Bolts need to capitalize on that emotion, as D.J. Fluker
“That was a big win. It was exciting. But we need to move on and take care of business Sunday against (the Bengals). They are a tough team, but so are we. It’s going to be a good game.
2. Limit Game Wrecking Green – “Game wrecker” has been one of Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s favorite terms this year when talking about the opposition’s most dangerous weapon, and perhaps no one yet this season defines that better than A.J. Green. The wide receiver ranks third in the NFL with 1,020 yards, and earlier this season strung together five consecutive games of 100-yards to set a franchise record. As such, Pagano spoke about the importance of limiting his damage:
“He is a game wrecker. He seems like he gets better every film you put on. You see his playmaking ability (and) the ability to go up and get the ball. They are a big time vertical team that is going to stretch the field. Something that we’ve talked about is making sure our guys understand that we’ve got to stay back and really do a great job of making sure we stay on top of things because they take shots and they do it from all over across the field. It’s something that we have to do a great job with.”
3. Protect Both Philip and the Ball
– Cincinnati’s feisty defense has proven capable of getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers. They rank seventh in total defense, sixth against the pass, 10th
against the rush and have allowed the sixth fewest points against. They also feature the NFL leader in tackles, Vontaze Burfict, who has 118. McCoy told the media on Wednesday that his team needs to protect two things: the football and Philip Rivers
. Afterward, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt spoke about the defense he is going up against:
"Just like any defensive coordinator, (Mike Zimmer) has his schemes whether they are blitzes or dogs. He does the A-Gap pressures, which you have to be prepared for. He does a number of different things. He gives you multiple looks. It doesn't help that he has some pretty good edge pass rushers. That always helps. And he has some physical linebackers in there. They are a very coordinated group. They understand what they are trying to do to pressure you. You have to be buttoned up as far as how you are going to handle it.”
4. Step Up and Fill In – In all capacities, the Bolts have seen a number of players step up when pressed with added responsibility. Keenan Allen, Ladarius Green, Reggie Walker and, of course, Seyi Ajirotutu to name a few. Whisenhunt spoke specifically about the wide out who made the game-winning catch last week, but what he said is applicable to all the players whose numbers have been called to step recently”
"I think with Tutu, when opportunities present themselves to him, he is going to take advantage of it. I think you go about your plan and when his time comes, however it fits in there, you are never sure how it is going to go, he has proven that he is going to make plays."
5. One Game. One Focus. Home Crowd. – Before the season even started, the Chargers knew December held an advantage for them with four of the final five games of the year at home. They wanted to be in the thick of the race heading into the final month, where half the season’s home games appeared. While the focus is only on this week’s game against the Bengals and not on the four that follow, the team knows they can go on a special ride with a raucous Qualcomm Stadium on its side. Here is what Head Coach Mike McCoy said about the home slate of games coming up, especially Sunday’s vs. Cincinnati:
“It will be great, but we have one focus and that is the Bengals right now. We’re not worried about it right now. It will be great to get them at home. We have had great support from our fans at home. We are going to need the loudest crowd we can get to date. Sunday is a great opportunity after coming off a big win, like we just had, to come back home and as a football team you love to finish the last four out of five at home. (But) we only have one game in mind right now."
Make sure you are there in person to help give the Bolts their home field advantage against the Bengals on Sunday. Click here to purchase your tickets.