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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Bengals

Posted Jan 3, 2014

Here is your scouting report for this week's game between the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.

For the 18th time in 54 seasons of existence, the San Diego Chargers are in the postseason.   Back for the first time since 2009, they travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to face the Bengals in a Wild Card matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 10:05AM PT on Sunday, and it will be telecast nationwide on CBS.   If you’d like to join us on the road, click here for more information about the Chargers official playoff road trip package, which includes game tickets, hotel accommodations and a reception with the team’s radio broadcasters.  

A Look Back At Last Week

Remarkably faced with a win-and-in scenario at kickoff, the Bolts rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to pull out a 27-24 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.  It was the first time in franchise history the team won a game in overtime to clinch a spot in the postseason.  Eddie Royal snared a quick touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Keenan Allen’s 38-yard catch and run set up a Nick Novak field goal to tie the game.  In the closing seconds of regulation, Ryan Succop’s potential game-winning field goal for the Chiefs went wide right.  Then, in overtime, spurred by an Eric Weddle fake punt, the Bolts drove downfield for another Novak field goal which eventually boosted the Bolts into the playoffs.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

Philip Rivers leads the Chargers back to the playoffs for the fifth time in his career after one of the best statistical seasons among his 10 in the NFL.  Rivers completed a team-record, career-best and NFL-leading 69.5% of his passes for 4,478 yards (third-highest of his career) with 32 touchdowns (second-most of his career) and just 11 interceptions.  When it was all said and done, he posted a career-best and team record-tying passer rating of 105.5 to earn his fifth trip to the Pro Bowl.  Meanwhile, Ryan Mathews also had a career-year.  The fourth-year running back rushed for a career high 1,255 yards, which was the eighth-best in franchise history and seventh-highest in the NFL this season. In the passing game, Keenan Allen had the best rookie season in team history for a wide receiver.  He set team rookie receiving records with 1,046 yards and 71 catches, leading all NFL rookies this season in catches, yards and touchdown catches (8).  Allen also became the first 1,000-yard rookie since the Bengals’ A.J. Green in 2011 and he became just the fifth rookie since 2000 to go over the 1,000 yard mark.

On Offense for the Bengals

When talking about the Cincinnati offense, it all starts with A.J. Green.  The wide receiver posted a career-high in both receptions with 98 and yards with 1,446.  As a result, Green’s 3,833 yards for his career are the second most of any NFL player for his first three seasons.  The man throwing him the ball is Andy Dalton, who is only the fifth starting QB in NFL history to lead a team to the playoffs his first three seasons.  He set franchise marks this season for touchdown passes (33) and passing yards (4296). Finally, the Bengals have a balanced rushing attack split between the power of Benjarvus Green-Ellis and the speed and athleticism of Giovanni Bernard.

On Defense for the Chargers

The Chargers played some of their best football of the season on defense down the stretch, recording 10 total takeaways in the last six games. The unit particularly excelled in the month of December in helping the Bolts to a mark of 4-1. The defense gave up just 315.8 yards per game in December, sixth-fewest in the NFL. And the Bolts got stingy on the scoreboard too in the final calendar month, giving up just 17.6 points per game, third-fewest in the NFL. The leader of the defense is Eric Weddle, who was just named to his second Pro Bowl.  Weddle had an outstanding all-around season, topping 100 tackles to lead the team for the second year in a row, while eclipsing the century mark for the third time in seven professional seasons. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions during the regular season and he was second on the squad with 10 passes defensed.

On Defense for the Bengals

From undrafted two years ago to Pro Bowler in 2013, second-year linebacker Vontaze Burfict led not only the Bengals defense with a whopping 171 tackles from his inside linebacker spot, but the entire NFL as well.  Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry each paced the squad with 7.5 sacks, while Dunlap also had a team-high 4.5 fumbles forced. The Bengals combined to record 20 interceptions on the season, with Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick each tallying three. Overall, Cincinnati ranked third in the entire NFL allowing just 305.5 yards per game.

Series History

The Chargers hold the all-time series edge over the Bengals, 19-13, although Cincinnati  defeated San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 1, 17-10.  The Bolts return to the Queen City for a playoff game for just the second time in team history and for the first time since the infamous “Freezer Bowl” ,  the 1981 AFC Championship Game. That game saw temperatures dip as low as nine degrees below zero with a wind chill of minus 59 as the Chargers lost to the Bengals.

By the Numbers

In 2013, the Chargers ranked fifth in total offense (393.3 yards per game), fourth in passing (270.5 ypg), 13th in rushing (122.8 ypg) and 12th in points (24.8). The Bengals ranked 10th in total offense (368.4 ypg), eighth in passing (258.7 ypg), 18th in rushing (109.7 ypg) and seventh in points (26.9)

Defensively, the Bolts ranked 23rd in total defense (366.5 ypg), 29th in passing (258.7 ypg), 12th in rushing (107.8 ypg) and 11th in points allowed (21.8).  Cincinnati ranked third in total defense (305.5 ypg) fifth in passing (209.0 ypg), fifth in rushing (96.5 ypg) and fifth in points allowed (19.1).

Accolades from the 2013 Season

Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle have both been selected for the 2014 Pro Bowl to be played Jan. 26, 2014 at Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It’s the fifth-career Pro Bowl appointment for Rivers and the second for Weddle.

Twice this season, Philip Rivers has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. He earned his first award of 2013 in Week 2 after leading the Chargers to a 33-30 come-from-behind victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia.  He then won it again after leading the Chargers to a 30-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium on Sept. 29. He passed for 401 yards and completed 35 of 42 (83.3 percent) in helping the Chargers rally from a 21-10 deficit for the win.

Keenan Allen is a three-time winner of the Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Week Award.  He earned his first in Week 6 with a 107-yard effort on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts when he scored the game’s lone touchdown. Allen won it a second time following a Week 12 win at Kansas City, contributing game-highs in both receptions (nine) and yards (124).  His third award came following the Week 15 victory over the Denver Broncos when he caught two touchdowns.

D.J. Fluker earned his first NFL Award on Oct. 25 when he was named Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 7. When the Chargers found themselves down to five healthy offensive linemen at Jacksonville, Fluker shifted from right to left tackle after the Chargers lost both of their left tackles due to injury. Fluker hadn’t played left tackle since he was in high school but he handled the move seamlessly as the Chargers did not allow a sack with him protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side and he helped the team’s backs rush for a then season-high 158 yards.

Nick Novak twice took home AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Awards.  The first came after the Chargers’ 19-9 win when Novak scored 13 of the Chargers 19 points, connecting on four field goals against the Colts.  That included a 50-yarder with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. Novak earned his second award after the Bolts’ Dec. 22 win over the Oakland Raiders in which he hit 4-of-4 field goals, including a 48-yarder late in the third quarter.

From the First Meeting

Philip Rivers finished 23 of 37 for 252 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 80.0.

Keenan Allen led all receivers with 106 yards on eight catches.

Ryan Mathews led all Chargers with 14 carries for 61 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Donald Butler paced all tacklers with 10.

Eric Weddle recorded his first interception of the season, and then recovered a fumble that Marcus Gilchrist forced.


Chargers long snapper Mike Windt is a native of Cincinnati. He prepped at Elder High School, played collegiately at the University of Cincinnati and signed with the Bengals as an undrafted rookie in 2010.

Defensive tackle Kwame Geathers’ brother, Robert, is a defensive end for the Bengals, however he is on injured-reserve with an elbow injury.

Tight end Antonio Gates finished his collegiate career on the hardwood at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco played football at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio.

Assistant Offensive Line Coach Andrew Dees played for the Bengals in 1992.

Bengals quarterback Josh Johnson played collegiately at the University of San Diego.

Bengals cornerback Leon Hall is from Vista, Calif. a suburb of San Diego and he prepped at Vista High School.

Cincinnati strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Chargers from 1995-98.

Bengals 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.

Broadcast Information

CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sidelines)

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)

Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)

All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Hank Bauer (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage after the game ends.

For a unique, one-of-a-kind look at the Chargers, be sure to tune in each week to Chargers Insider on Fox Sports San Diego.  The half-hour program will be the go-to destination for fans that want behind-the-scenes coverage and unique features on the team. Chargers Insider airs each week throughout the season on Thursdays at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. PT as well as Saturday’s at 11:35pm on KFMB, Channel 8.

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