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It's do or die for the San Diego Chargers (5-6, 2-2 home) on Sunday at 4:25 ET when they take on the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals (7-4, 2-4 home). After ending a three game skid with an epic fourth quarter road win against the Kansas City Chiefs, they find themselves with a chance to make the playoffs. There is 0 room for error as they are tied with several other teams for the second and final wildcard spot. The Bengals have a two game lead on all division foes.
The Bengals, exiting a BYE, have struggled on the road this year. They lost in OT in Baltimore and Miami. They do own a road win against Detroit. The TOTAL stands at 48 with 60.8% of bettors looking to the over. The Bengals will see MLB Rey Maualuga return to a defense that didn't seem to miss him. The defense scored three TDs without him last week.
Both teams are 6-4-1 against the spread in 2013. The total has gone OVER in 4 of Cincinnati's last 6 games. The total has gone OVER in 6 of Cincinnati's last 7 games when playing San Diego. San Diego is 8-4 SU in its last 12 games when playing Cincinnati.
Cincinnati brings an imposing defense to this game. At times they are better at scoring than the offense. They rank 6th against the pass at 211.1 YPG and 10th against the run, allowing 102 YPG. LB Vontaze Burfict, a man that could scare Ray Lewis, leads the team in total tackles with 118. He has seven tackles for a loss as well as an INT and a sack. As a team, the Bengals have 12 INTs. DE Carlos Dunlap has seven sacks and the Bengals have 34 as a team.
QB Andy Dalton (85.2 RAT, 2,954 YDs, 21 TDs) leads the offense. He is a Jekyl and Hyde of sorts and that is to say he either plays very good or very bad. There isn't much in between. When he shows up with a big game the Bengals almost always win, but if he doesn't bring his best stuff, they struggle to score and subsequently struggle to win.
The Chargers clearly win the QB war, as Phillip Rivers (106.6 RAT, 3,381 YDs, 22 TDs) is among the elite passers in this league. He enters this game fresh off a game winning TD pass that kept his team in the playoff hunt. With a 70.8 CMP%, he is the NFL's most accurate passer. He can carve up a good defense, so the Bengals better be ready to play. The Chargers rank 4th in passing yards and 17th in rushing yards. The banged up Cincinnati secondary could have their hands full.
The San Diego defense is going to try to take WR AJ Green and TEs Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham away from Andy Dalton. That means a big game is needed from Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Greene-Ellis.
This game is a toss up as the line suggest. So we'll turn to the total here. These two don't exactly have prolific offenses. In fact, both are better on the defensive side and with so much riding on this one, we think the under is the way to look here as we're also getting some extra value by going against the line move (total opened 45). Under 48.5
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