If there's one thing to be said about this weekend's matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs, it's that at least one significant streak will be broken. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game in 24 years, but they haven't lost a home game this year (8-0) and have won 18 of their past 24 games (75 percent) dating back to 2012:
Bengals: last playoff win was during the 1990 season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2013
Trying to make a confident prediction, let alone determine an accurate points spread is a tough task to do for this game given the Bengals' postseason failures versus their success at home this year, as noted by San Diego TV sportscaster Rick Willis:
The Chargers have been defying the odds for most of the 2013 NFL season, and this chart shows just how small their chances of making it to the NFL playoffs were:
Another statistic to factor in was the Bengals' undefeated record against the spread at home, according to Wager Minds:
Two NFL teams finished the season undefeated against the spread at home: the Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) and the New Orleans Saints (7-0-1).— WagerMinds (@WagerMinds) December 30, 2013
That can be attributed to the Bengals offense being one of the best in the NFL when they're at home, as NFL.com writer Marc Sessler pointed out:
Bengals were 6 points shy of becoming the first team in NFL history to score 40+ points in five straight home games. Bring it, Chargers.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) December 31, 2013
But Chargers QB Philip Rivers is one of the best in the NFL when it comes to playing in big games in the months of December and January:
Combined W-L of Tony Romo in Sept/Nov & Philip Rivers in Dec/Jan: 83-33.(.716 win pct, which is better than Roethlisberger, Rodgers)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2013
As to what uniforms the Bengals will don this weekend, the team announced they're going with black jerseys and white pants:
Unfortunately, fans won't get to see those uniforms on their TV if the game is blacked out, which is looking more and more likely to happen with so many tickets still left to be sold, according to Lance McAlister of WLW Radio in Cincinnati:
From #Bengals: Sales over the last week have been steady, and the number of unsold tickets has dipped below 10,000.— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) December 31, 2013
If the Bengals have a sellout crowd and are playing at their best, they'll remain undefeated at home this season and get their first playoff win since Paul Brown was still the owner of the team.
But don't expect the Chargers to be a pushover by any means.