Key Matchups: Los Angeles Chargers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Coming into week 13, the Los Angeles Chargers find themselves sitting at a pleasant 6-5 record coming off of a disappointing road loss against the Denver Broncos. They travel to play the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals, coming off a dominant win against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. This is the first meeting between Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. The two quarterbacks were drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft class. The Bengals and the Chargers met in week 1 of last season where the Chargers won in a 16-13 comeback victory. However, that game did not feature Herbert as he was the backup for Tyrod Taylor.
This could become a matchup that we may start to see in the playoffs in future seasons. Will the Chargers be able to get a huge win against the Bengals and improve to 7-5? Let’s look at the key matchups that will help them secure the victory.
Justin Herbert vs Joe Burrow
As previously discussed these two quarterbacks are connected due to being drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow ranks in the top ten for Big Time Throws (BTT) for PFF. His connection with rookie wideout and former teammate Ja’marr Chase is one of the best in the league. Burrow only has one game this season without a touchdown. Which came against the Browns in a blowout loss. On the flip side Herbert has at times this season played at an elite MVP level. This game may very well come down to quarterback play, and which team best supports their quarterback.
Chargers Offensive Line vs Bengals Defensive Line
Well, the good news for Chargers fans is that Left Guard Matt Feiler will play on Sunday. This is a huge return for the Chargers as they face a red-hot Bengals pass rush this upcoming week. Bengals pass rusher Trey Hendrickson is playing some of the best ball of his career alongside Sam Hubbard. Hendrickson is second in the NFL in pressures according to PFF. Along with this, the Bengals have 8 players on defense with 15+ run stops. On the counterpart, the Chargers only have 4 players with 15+ run stops. However, the Chargers’ offensive line has been a positive this season specifically the left side. Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley have played extremely well this season and their excellent play will need to continue against the Bengals’ defensive front.
Chargers Secondary vs Bengals Wide Receivers
Another week and another unfortunate week where the Chargers defense will be without star rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. This is a week where they really need him. As previously mentioned Chase is playing phenomenal football right now and has a case for offensive rookie of the year. He currently leads all rookies in receiving yards and is tied for fourth in the NFL in touchdowns by a wide receiver. Cornerback Michael Davis is presumably going to have to step up. Can’t forget about wideouts Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd as well. This could be a tall task for the Chargers’ defense. Let’s just hope they can handle it.
I am incredibly nervous for this matchup, but we’ve seen Herbert and company bounce back in big ways after poor performances. Because of that, I’m picking the Chargers to win 34-31.