San Diego arrives at Paul Brown Stadium having snuck into the playoffs with an overtime win over the Chiefs last week. While many sports bettors are discounting San Diego, it should be noted that the Chargers finished the regular season on a 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS run, including road wins over the Broncos and Chiefs. Many sports bettors are also pointing to the 10 a.m. Pacific start time for the Chargers, but travel to the east coast has not fazed San Diego as evidenced by its 3-2 SU and 3-1-1 ATS record this season in early starts. Let’s also note that San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is 3-1 ATS as a playoff underdog, while the Chargers are 7-3 SU in their last ten opening playoff games.
Meanwhile, the biggest mistake made by San Diego may have been the manner in which they celebrated last week’s win over Kansas City. In that celebration, several San Diego players are scene taunting the Bengals, which has not gone unnoticed by Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. In fact, the first scouting video coach Lewis had players watch Wednesday at their team facility didn’t show the Chargers on the field Sunday. It showed them in the locker room. “I showed them the video this morning of Mike’s post-game, how they’re even pointing to us,” Lewis said. “There was even some ‘Who Dey’ chants they had in there and everything. They ‘owe Cincy’ and all that. We know we’ve got to be ready. Our guys aren’t overconfident ever. That is not the way we operate around here.”
Cincinnati takes the field with one of the league’s best stop units as the Bengals are allowing just 19.1 points per game at 5.1 yards per pass play and 4.9 yards per play. Overall, the Bengals are 0.2 yards per rush play, 1.0 yards per pass attempt and 0.6 yards per play better than average defensively, which gives Cincinnati 0.1 yards per play advantage defensively over the Chargers’ offense. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is a perfect 8-0 SU and ATS at home this season where the Bengals are averaging 34.4 points per game at 7.6 yards per pass play, 5.6 yards per play and 10.6 yards per point.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton should have success exploiting a terrible San Diego secondary that is yielding 7.1 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to average just 6.3 yards per pass play. Overall, Cincinnati’s aerial attack has a significant 1.3 yards per pass play advantage over the Chargers’ defensive backfield. Finally, from a technical standpoint, NFL Wild card road teams have a difficult time after playing a division opponent in their season ending finale, going 21-43-1 ATS. And, if you install these road squads as underdogs of more then three points, they plummet to 4-33 SU and 9-28 ATS.
Pro Edge Sports likes Cincinnati in today’s NFL Wild Card Playoff round, but it should be noted that the Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1990 (0-5 SU and ATS).