The San Diego Chargers aim to end a three-game losing streak this Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. The Bengals enter the game red-hot, riding a three-game winning streak in which they beat the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders by three scores each.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Chargers dropped a 16-13 heartbreaker in overtime last week to the Baltimore Ravens. Up by 10 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens rallied to tie it up in the final seconds, highlighted by a 4th-and-29 conversion by Ray Rice. In overtime, Justin Tucker hit a 38-yard field goal and with that the Bolts’ record fell to 4-7.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
San Diego’s offense took care of the football against the Ravens, not committing a turnover for the second time this season. However, they managed to score just 13 points and converted only 3-of-15 third downs.
On Offense for the Bengals
The Bengals explosive offense is headed by quarterback Andy Dalton, a 2011 second-round pick who led the team to the playoffs as a rookie and was selected to play for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. Dalton has continued where he left off as a rookie, completing 237 of 374 (63.4%) for 2,769 yards, nearly 252 yards per game, with 23 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. His top target is the NFL’s fourth-leading receiver and the team’s top draft pick a year ago, wide receiver A.J. Green, who’s already racked up 1,022 yards and an NFL-leading 10 touchdown catches on 67 receptions. The Bengals have rushed for 1,253 yards as a team, led by veteran Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who’s well on his way to his second-career 1,000-yard season with 767 yards and five touchdowns on 201 carries.
On Defense for the Chargers
The Chargers pass rush had their best game to date against the Ravens with a season-high five sacks. They were led by Antwan Barnes, who recorded two of those takedowns. However, this unit is very banged up entering the game. The team lost their two leading tacklers against the Ravens with Atari Bigby out for the year due to a groin injury, and
On Defense for the Bengals
The Bengals boast a talented defensive unit that ranks ninth in the NFL in total defense, is eighth against the pass and has recorded the second-most sacks in the league with 35. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins has a team-leading nine sacks, while defensive end Michael Johnson has eight.
The Chargers and Bengals have a history that dates back to 1968 having met 30 times since then in the regular season. They also had a memorable game in the playoffs in January 1982 that was played on the coldest day in NFL history which later became known as “The Freezer Bowl.” The Chargers lead the all-time series, 19-12 (playoff game included) and though the Bengals won the last meeting, 34-20 in 2010, the Chargers have won two of the last three, five of the last seven and eight of the last 11. The Chargers are 10-5 in games played between the teams in San Diego.
By the Numbers
For the year, the Chargers rank 25th in total offense (324.4 yards per game), 18th in passing (224.4 ypg), 25th in rushing (99.5 ypg) and 16th in points (22.3). The Bengals rank 13th in total offense (358.5 ypg), 12th in passing (244.5 ypg), 14th in rushing (113.9 ypg) and 10th in points (25.6)
Defensively, the Bolts rank 10th in total defense (334.7 ypg), 20th in passing (243.3 ypg), fifth in rushing (91.5 ypg) and 12th in points allowed (21.5). Cincinnati ranks ninth in total defense (334.5 ypg), eighth in passing (218.4 ypg), 17th in rushing (116.1 ypg) and 15th in points allowed (22.5).
Milestones on the Horizon
Philip Rivers has thrown for 2,689 yards through the season’s first 11 games (244.5 yards per game) and is on pace for a 3,912-yard season, which would make him the first Chargers quarterback ever with five straight seasons of 3,500-or-more passing yards.
Mathews has 14 career rushing touchdowns and is just three scores shy of moving into the Top 10. Currently the Top 10 is rounded out by Hank Bauer (1977-82), Rod Bernstine (1987-92), Dick Post (1967-70) and Clarence Williams (1977-81), who each scored 17 rushing touchdowns during their Chargers’ careers.
Gates has 625 career catches and needs 38 more to pass Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome (662) for the fourth-most catches by a tight end in NFL history.
Gates (8,151 career yards) currently ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards by a tight end.
Eric Weddle (15) needs four interceptions himself to crack the Top 10.
Antoine Cason (245 int. return yards) needs 64 to crack the team’s career Top 10 list.
The Chargers need four regular-season victories to reach 400 all-time. The Chargers’ all-time regular-season record is 396-392-11.
A.J. Smith is the winningest general manager in franchise history with 95 wins. He needs five wins to see the team reach 100 wins under his watch. Additionally, the Chargers’ next division title will be Smith’s sixth as general manager, most in team history, and the Chargers’ next playoff win will be Smith’s fourth as general manager, also most in team history.
Norv Turner (115) ranks 32nd in NFL history for career wins. Turner needs two wins to tie Dennis Green (117) for 31st and three to tie George Allen (118) for 30th. Former Chargers coach Sid Gillman is 29th with 123 wins.
Photos: Familiar Faces
Chargers secondary coach Ron Meeks was the defensive backs coach for the Bengals from 1992-96.
Inside linebacker Takeo Spikes was a first-round pick by Cincinnati in 1998 and played for the Bengals from 1998-02.
Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was an assistant strength and condition coach with the Chargers from 1995-98.
Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese attended USD, served as an assistant coach with the school from 1990-91 and is the son of former Chargers offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.
CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Marv Albert (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analyst)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst) and Mike Costa (reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)