Two groups getting into drastically completely different instructions meet Sunday when the fading Cincinnati Bengals go to Los Angeles to face the quickly rising Chargers.
The Chargers (9-3) might clinch a playoff berth with a win. They path the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs by a sport within the AFC West, however they’re two video games forward of the Baltimore Ravens within the AFC wild-card race and three video games up on the opposite wild-card hopefuls.
The situations are nonetheless difficult at this level. Merely put, the Chargers assist their probabilities to succeed in the playoffs for the primary time since 2013 by amassing their ninth win in 10 video games on the StubHub Heart.
It is perhaps a problem to take care of the identical degree of depth the Chargers had in a 33-30 win on Sunday evening over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chargers erased a 16-point deficit and received on a last-second discipline purpose that got here on the third try.
“We handle it each week,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn mentioned. “That was an emotional sport final week, however that’s behind us now. The one factor we will do is figure on the crew that now we have on Sunday.”
The Bengals (5-7) would not appear to supply a lot of a take a look at. However Lynn and the opposite veterans know to not get cute.
“That is an NFL man with NFL guys and so they have delight,” Lynn mentioned. “You put together for them such as you would do for anyone else. Particularly in opposition to a crew that mainly has to win out to have an opportunity on the playoffs.”
At one level, the Bengals have been 3-1. However a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos final Sunday elevated the likelihood of Cincinnati lacking the postseason for the third straight season.
And if the losses weren’t unhealthy sufficient, the Bengals misplaced beginning quarterback Andy Dalton the earlier week with a thumb damage after which this previous Sunday misplaced star extensive receiver A.J. Inexperienced, who was positioned on injured reserve Wednesday, with a toe downside.
Inexperienced completed the season with 46 catches and 694 yards. He averaged 15.1 yards per reception, equaling the second-highest common of his profession.
“That is large,” mentioned Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel, who makes his second profession begin this week instead of Dalton. “On the finish of the day, now we have different good gamers on the market, and the coaches are going to do an excellent job of getting these guys in place to make performs.
“We’ve got full confidence that whoever is on the market enjoying receiver goes to make these performs. It is undoubtedly completely different and you must draw some issues up a little bit bit in another way and transfer some folks round. We will have to beat and make some performs on the market in his absence.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis realizes the daunting activity that awaits his crew in opposition to the Chargers, one of many league’s hottest groups.
“Clearly, they’ve actually hit their stride,” Lewis mentioned. “They’ve received shut video games and been up in video games, so that they’ve had the story of either side of these. They’re enjoying rather well on offense.”
Offense, protection and penalties all have contributed to the Bengals’ struggles.
“You understand how necessary each sport is anyway, then when you’re up in opposition to the ropes and wish these wins all the things will get multiplied,” Bengals extensive receiver Alex Erickson mentioned. “Each error, each mistake will get multiplied. It retains stacking on prime of one another.”