The Chargers have dropped three straight games and six of their last seven.They've remained competitive during that span, losing by an average 6.5 points per game. Unfortunately, merely being competitive doesn't cut it in the harsh world of the NFL. Barring a miraculous performance in the final five weeks, San Diego will miss the playoffs yet again.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have won three consecutive games, effectively painting themselves back into the AFC postseason picture. The Bengals are currently on the outside looking in at 6-5, but with a win over the Chargers they will put themselves in an excellent position heading into the final stretch of the season.
Of course, as poorly as the Chargers have played this season, they cannot be overlooked. San Diego has plenty of talent offensively in Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates. If they can finally get everyone on the same page, the Chargers will have a chance to pull off the upset.
When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, CA
TV: CBS (check local listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Bengals -2 (via Bovada.lv)
Over/Under: 46.5 (via Bovada.lv)
Injury Report - as of 11/29 (via ESPN)
Cedric Peerman - RB, probable
Andrew Hawkins - WR, questionable
Mohamed Sanu - WR, questionable
Eddie Royal - WR, questionable
Eric Weddle - S, questionable
Vincent Brown - WR, injured reserve
Fantasy Big Plays
Bengals: A.J. Green - WR
The second-year wideout has established himself as one of the most dangerous weapons in football. He currently ranks first in touchdowns (10), fifth in receiving yards (1,022) and ninth in receptions (67). He's also caught touchdown passes in nine of his 11 games, and he's averaging 96.5 yards per game in his last four outings.
Against a lackluster San Diego pass defense, you can count on Green putting up some big numbers this week.
Projected stats: seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown
Chargers: Ryan Mathews - RB
Frankly, I wouldn't start anybody on the Chargers this week (or for the rest of the season) unless I absolutely had to. They are undoubtedly a talented group, but this has to be the least reliable bunch of offensive players in the NFL.
That said, if all your other running backs are concussed, Mathews could give you some decent production. The Bengals have been wrecking teams who try to throw the ball, so one would expect Mathews to see plenty of touches on the ground.
Of course, this team is coached by Norv Turner, who's never had a problem with designing an illogical gameplan.
Projected stats: 20 carries for 76 yards; three catches for 16 yards
Key to Victory: Late-game execution
This should be a close game, so whoever executes better in the fourth quarter will likely come away with the victory.
That means the Chargers can't pull their usual late-game disappearing act. The Chargers have been outscored 46-13 in the fourth quarter and overtime of their seven losses. If they don't find a way to solve this problem, they'll watch Andy Dalton and Co. march out of San Diego with another win.
I would advise you to avoid any situation that involves trusting the Chargers. Philip Rivers is too unpredictable, Ryan Mathews is maddeningly inconsistent, Norv Turner is coaching like he wants to be fired and their defense—which wasn't exactly menacing in the first place—is missing several key players.
Like their other losses, the Chargers will hang around. But unfortunately for Bolts fans, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the strong Bengals defense will eventually overwhelm San Diego.
Final Score: Bengals 31 - Chargers 20