The Cincinnati Bengals are coming to San Diego this Sunday to take on the Chargers. Although the Bengals were on a four-game losing streak before last week’s win against the Raiders, the team does look to be in the wildcard hunt and looking to make a push starting with last week’s win. For this week’s game against the Chargers, the game will be won and lost up front on both the offensive and defensive lines. Seeing as how the Chargers don’t have much to offer on the offensive line side, it’ll just play into the Bengals’ key defensive strength right now – their defensive line. The whole D-line upfront has been a force in putting pressure on the quarterback and stuffing the run. As a unit they are a force, and it starts with 97 Geno Atkins. Geno has been sacking quarterbacks, causing fumbles, and racking up tackles. He is always harassing quarterbacks and putting them on the ground, along with 93 Michael Johnson, 95 Wallace Gilberry, and 96 Carlos Dunlap. This front four will wreak havoc on the Chargers’ offensive line all day if they keep playing the way they have been. As for the rest of the Bengal defense, the linebackers and secondary do a great job of adding pressure, swarming to the ball, and making tackles as soon as the ball is caught by the other team’s offensive receivers. It seems there are always four or five defensive plays around the ball.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals offense starts with their offensive line. This group up front is, more often than not, great at giving quarterback Andy Dalton time and a nice pocket to make throws down field. Also, it is the run blocking by this offensive line that is a big boost in allowing the offense the option of either running or passing, and allowing some play action passes after getting some good runs in with running back 42 BenJarvus Green-Ellis and running back 30 Cedric Peerman. The offensive line seals blocks and creates good run lanes and creases for Green-Ellis to run through, and that is all he needs to break off a long run. Most of their strong runs go to the right of this offensive line, but they can also get good runs off the left side or up the middle. That will be the challenge for the Chargers D-line and front seven. As for the wide receivers and tight ends for the Bengals, the team has been rotating in and out trying to find a second option for Dalton and take some of the defensive focus off of star wide receiver 18 AJ Green.
That second option for Dalton is quickly becoming rookie wide receiver 12 Mohamed Sanu. Sanu had a great game last week against the Raiders in the slot catching five passes and scoring two touchdowns. The Bengals also use him has a running back on a play or two in the run game as well. Along with Sanu you also have wide receiver 19 Brandon Tate, and of course tight end 84 Jermaine Gresham. Along with Gresham is a rookie tight end also getting some passes, 80 Orson Charles. This bunch of receivers and tight ends has been getting good plays in the pass game for Dalton and has taken some pressure off of Green who still remains the main down-the-field threat with his great catches and speed.
The Bengals do have some spurts during a game where they go three and out on multiple back-to-back drives on offense, which could help the Chargers a little, but they also have that problem as well. The Bengals defense also gets lost on their defensive assignments before the snap on some plays and can be seen figuring out who is supposed to cover who on the play, which leads them to burning a timeout every once in awhile. Still, though, the Bengals have shown they can be contenders for one of the two wildcard spots with their recent play on the field. The Chargers will have another tough test this Sunday against these Cincinnati Bengals; we’ll see how it goes. But one thing is for sure – these Bengals have the option to do any play they want on offense, whether it’s run or pass, and have the aggressiveness and constant pressure up front on defense to make it another long day for Philip Rivers, the offensive line, and the rest of the Bolts.