The Chargers return to action Sunday afternoon when they host the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.
1. Give Rivers Time– For the second time in three weeks, the Chargers face one of the elite pass rushing teams in the NFL. The Bengals rank second in sacks with 35, just two behind the Denver Broncos. Leading the way is defensive tackle Geno Atkins with nine, while defensive end Michael Johnson is close behind with eight. The offensive line will have their hands full on Sunday.
2. Key in on Green – A.J. Green is one of the top wide receivers in the league. He ranks first with 10 touchdown catches, ranks seventh with 67 receptions and fifth in yards with 1,022. Green is a true big play threat, as his seven catches for over 40 yards are far and away the most among any wideout this season. Watch for the Bolts to tailor their game plan to limit Green’s damage.
3. Next Man Up – With injuries decimating the team, particularly on defense, the Chargers need a number of players to step up and rise to the occasion. Heading the list are rookie safety
4. Smart Decisions – Rivers did not throw an interception for only the third time all season on Sunday. Instead, he threw the ball away when no one was open or he was under pressure. If he doesn’t force ill-advised throws and turn the ball over in those scenarios, he will give the team a better chance to stay in the game.
5. Mental Toughness - Giving up the 4th-and-29 conversion late in regulation then losing in overtime is a heartbreaking manner in which to lose a game. No one is denying that, especially not the Chargers. The team needs to put that in the past, stay focused on the game at hand, and be mentally prepared if this Sunday’s match against the Bengals comes down to the wire yet again.