Sunday, December 1, 2013
Bengals-Chargers: Welcome to San Diego
By Coley Harvey
SAN DIEGO -- Welcome to Qualcomm Stadium, where the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers are preparing for an important AFC clash that has real postseason implications.
The Bengals are coming off a bye and looking to earn their second straight win after beating the Browns two weeks ago to stop a two-game skid. This past week, the Bengals have harped on the importance of winning Sunday's game in order to kick off a string of five-straight victories to conclude the regular season. Their thinking is that with wins in each of those games, they will do enough to set themselves up for home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Chargers are looking to build off their win last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Philip Rivers' last-minute scoring drive ended with his 26-yard touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu. Since then, San Diego has entered the playoff chase fully, hoping it can do enough to surge to the top of the AFC West and sneak past either the Chiefs or Broncos. Entering play Sunday, the Chargers had a better chance to get past Kansas City.
As you get ready for the day's game, here are a few items to be aware of:
Kickoff/TV: 4:25 p.m. ET/CBS
Weather: 71 degrees. Mostly sunny. Winds: NNW 8 mph during the game.
Records: Bengals (7-4); Chargers (5-6)
Series history: San Diego has a 19-13 all-time advantage against the Bengals. The teams have split the past four meetings, with Cincinnati claiming the past two. Last season, the Bengals won 20-13 in a late-season meeting in Southern California. The teams' only postseason meeting was a 27-7 Bengals win that came in the 1981 AFC Championship Game that sent Cincinnati to the Super Bowl. With a wind chill that nearly touched minus-60, the 1981 game was so cold it was dubbed the "Freezer Bowl." Don't expect such conditions Sunday.
Worth noting: Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict sprained an ankle during practice Friday and was listed as questionable. About three hours before Sunday's game, Burfict was out near one of the end zones working on his lateral and diagonal movement. While being observed by a trainer, he was trying to see how his ankle would respond to the potentially awkward movements that he might end up taking it through if he plays. He appeared to be favoring the injury and spent a few minutes talking with the trainer after the workout before heading back into the locker room.
If the injury ends up keeping Burfict out of the game, the Bengals would be forced to tweak their lineup. Rey Maualuga, who is returning this week from his own knee injury, and Vincent Rey would see time to account for Burfict's absence. Rey likely would play the weak side, and Maualuga would return to the middle. We'll know soon whether Burfict is inactive.
Bengals Friday Injury Report
OUT: OG Kevin Zeitler (foot).
QUESTIONABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (ankle).
PROBABLE: LB Michael Boley (shoulder), S Chris Crocker (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (left ankle), LB Rey Maualuga (knee), DT Devon Still (elbow), WR Brandon Tate (ankle)
Chargers Friday Injury Report
DOUBTFUL: OT King Dunlap (neck).
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jarret Johnson (hand), WR Eddie Royal (toe/chest), S Darrell Stuckey (concussion).
PROBABLE: WR Seyi Ajirotutu (hamstring), OT D.J. Fluker (knee), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring), DE Lawrence Guy (toe), C Nick Hardwick (neck), DE Corey Liuget (shin), RB Ryan Mathews (hamstring), LS Mike Windt (ankle)