San Diego Chargers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date/Time: Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +3/CIN -3
Over/Under Total: 45.5
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The San Diego Chargers make the trip to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a key week 2 matchup. Both teams emerged from week one with impressive wins. The Chargers rose from the ashes after falling into a big first half hole, beating the Detroit Lions in a shootout, 38-33. Cincinnati was no less impressive on Sunday, marching into Oakland and winning a no-doubter, 33-13, with only two late garbage touchdowns by the Raiders making it look even minimally respectable.
It was impressive the way Cincinnati thrived in what looked like a tough road game against an Oakland team that had made multiple improvements across all phases of their team. Defensively, the Bengals didnt even let the Raiders hit the scoreboard until the 4th quarter, while methodically putting up points that had taken the Raiders out of the game by the second quarter. Oakland could only manage 63 yards on the ground. The Bengals held opposing QB Derek Carr to very little. And when Matt McGloin came in after Carr got hurt, the game was already in the bag. Even with Oakland looking to have boosted their receiving corps considerably with rookie Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Cincinnati held that pair to 84 combined yards.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was excellent in his 2015 debut, while relying on a running game that is growing in stature with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. AJ Green is there and people forget how talented his is. His presence will only open things up for returning tight end Tyler Eifert, who caught two touchdown passes on Sunday, while going over 100 yards. With Mohamed Sanu and Bernard a nice X-factor in the pass-game, this offense could take another step forward in 2015.
For a lot of NFL observers, the last impression they have of Cincinnati was yet another winless postseason last season, their 4th in a row. So when the season starts, some of us forget what a proven entity they areat least in the regular season. With a mere three losses at home in the past two seasons, they are not an easy assignment by any means. This game will give us all a better idea of where they truly stand. Their defense looked good enough on Sunday, but the way Oakland was playing, there were a lot of teams who would be made to look a little better than they perhaps really are in that spot. San Diegos offense will certainly put this Bengals defense more to the test.
A win is a win, but when you come back from the depths, it can pump a lot of life into a team, especially this early in the season. San Diego scored one of those wins on Sunday, battling back from a 21-3 deficit to outduel the Lions, 38-33. They looked awful for nearly the entire first half. Philip Rivers threw an interception that got run back for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Detroit received little resistance as they moved the ball up the field with impunity. Then things changed.
After a slow start, the San Diego offense took off, under the stewardship of coordinator Frank Reichone of the best at making mid-game adjustments. With the steely nerves of Rivers, things started to click. Rivers eventually threw for 404 yards. Inconsistent, but potentially-dominant receiver Keenan Allen caught 15 passes for 166 yards. Tight end Ladarius Green filled in well for suspended Antonio Gates, getting untracked in the second half. And new addition Stevie Johnson looked reborn within the high-flying attack, catching 6 balls for 82 yards and a TD.
For San Diegos offense to really take it to the next level, the run-game led by rookie Melvin Gordon will need to blossom and the offensive line will once again need to play over its head. Gordon offered some glimpses of hope in game one, but it will be a while until we can wrap our heads around his true overall worth. And it was upsetting to see oft-injured offensive lineman and former first-rounder DJ Fluker get carted off. No matter what the Chargers do, they simply cannot avoid issues up front. The line is in a state of permanent disorder. One possible saving grace for San Diego is that theyre used to it, having still managed solid offensive output over the past two seasons, despite constant injuries and reshuffling taking place up front.
For most of the first half against Detroit, San Diego was dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage. But that began to change as the game moved into the second half. We saw some of the things that had people excited about this D heading into 2015. The defensive line starting throwing people around and the secondary clamped down on the powerful Detroit receiver package. Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson were held to 6 combined catches. The Detroit run game was bottled up, with 69 total yards. At the end of the day, they held Detroit to just a smidge over 300 yards and that was after nearly getting taken out the game early.
Its not easy for any team to win in Cincinnati. Theyre a team that plays solid football, not shooting themselves in the foot very often. But just maybe, they were made to look a little better than reality suggests on Sunday by beating an Oakland team that hadnt yet shed all its dysfunction from recent seasons, as some suspected they might be able to do. With this San Diego bunch carrying their second half performance from last week into this game, while actually getting points, this might be a good road spot for San Diego.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 3 points.
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