NFL Wild Card weekend kicks off as the sixth-seeded San Diego Chargers travel to the third-seeded Cincinnati Bengals who put up an 8-0 home record.
Check out the matchup in our betting tale of the tape.
The Bengals are ranked seventh in the league in points averaging 26.9 a game. They are ranked 10th in yards averaging 368.2 yards and eight in passing yards with 258.5. The Bengals are second in the league in touchdowns scored with 54 - 14 rushing and 33 receiving. Wide receiver A.J. Green has 98 receptions, 11 touchdowns and 1,426 total yards. Second-year wide receiver Marvin Jones has also been a key target for Andy Dalton with 51 receptions for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Andy Dalton has put up a 61.9 percent completion percentage and is ranked seventh overall in total yards with 4,293.
The Chargers have five players this season who have at least 30 catches and one touchdown. Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen set the receiving record with 1,046 yards and 71 catches. Allen became the first 1,000-yard rookie since A.J. Green in 2011 and is the fifth rookie since 2000 to go over the 1,000-yard mark. Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the NFL in completion percentage over 200 throws with 69.5 percent. He has a 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and is ranked fifth overall in total yards with 4,478.
The Bengals defense is ranked in the top five in points allowed (19.1), yards (305.5), passing yards (209) and rushing yards (96.5). The Bengals have seven players with three or more sacks and their defense has recovered 11 fumbles. The Bengals have generated 20 interceptions that tie them for fifth in the league. Outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict leads the NFL in total combined tackles with 171. Alongside Burfict, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga’s versatility with pressuring the pocket and his ability to drop back into coverage helps complete the Bengals' dangerous defense.
The Chargers defense have been good at stopping the run allowing only 107.8 average yards. They have struggled in passing yards allowed (258.7) ranking them 29th and total yards 366.5. The Chargers only have one player with 100 or more tackles, free safety Eric Weddle with 115 combined tackles. Weddle also leads the team in interceptions with two. The Chargers defense has not been very good at getting to the quarterback and is ranked 23rd in total sacks with 35.
Wide receiver Brandon Tate has returned 36 punts and has 16 fair catches averaging 9.3 yards per return. Cornerback Adam Jones has 11 returns averaging 8.0 yards per return. Brandon Tate has been exceptional at punt returns with 35 for 914 yards averaging 26.1 yards per return including a long of 43 yards. Kicker Mike Nugent has made 18-of-22 field goals (82 percent) with a long of 54 yards. Nugent has had one field goal attempt blocked.
Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal have returned punts for the Chargers. Allen has 15 returns and 13 fair catches averaging 8.3 yards per return. Royal has seven returns and seven fair catches averaging 5.9 yards per return. The Chargers have three players with over 100 yards in kick returns. Danny Woodhead has 12 kick returns for 262 yards including a long of 37 yards. Kicker Nick Novak has made 34-of-37 field goals (92 percent). He is a perfect 9-of-9 in field goal attempts between 40-49 yards and 2-of-2 in attempts of 50 or more yards.
“But we’ve been in the playoff-type deal for four weeks because you lose another one, you’re done. But we’ve been in that mode. I don’t think our mind-set has to change or shift gears. We didn’t get to relax in the month of December because we had some things wrapped up. It’s been playoff football for a month.” – Philip Rivers on the team’s December performance.
“Offensively, I don't think we've done very well, but we haven't put a pretty complete game together," Dalton said. "This is the time. What you've done in the regular season doesn't matter anymore; it's all about what you're doing now. It's the team that gets hot that ends up winning it all. We've got to play to our potential and good things are going to happen for us.” – Andy Dalton on the Bengals past postseason performances and the importance on focusing on the upcoming game.