SAN DIEGO -- Good morning. In this ESPN Insider piece, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. votes San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen as his offensive rookie of the year in putting together his all-rookie team.
Kiper: “Don't just look at what Allen did -- look at what his quarterback did. At age 32, Philip Rivers just put together the best season of his career in terms of accuracy and efficiency, and Allen was a big part of that rebound. Allen had 71 catches, led the Chargers in receiving yardage with 1,046 and tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with eight. He had just five dropped passes on 105 targets. Allen was a player I had on my Big Board for most of 2012, but he was slowed during the draft process because of a lingering knee injury. He ended up as a steal in Round 3 and should be a key element in the Chargers' offense going forward.”
ESPN’s John Clayton believes the Bengals should end their long playoff drought on Sunday.
Clayton: “The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, even though Marvin Lewis has the team in the playoffs for a third consecutive year. If they can’t win Sunday, something must be wrong. The Chargers will be a tough opponent, because Rivers can beat any team, particularly on the road. Still, the Bengals are 8-0 at home and won their regular-season home games by an average of 17.6 points. They have the deepest offensive group of weapons in football. Their defense ranked third in the league. The pressure falls on quarterback Andy Dalton, who is 0-2 in the playoffs. Dalton tends to complete the longer passes at home. On the road, the longer passes often don’t connect. Since 1990, the Bengals are 0-5 in playoff games. The Chiefs, who visit the Colts, are tied with the Detroit Lions for the longest streak of playoff games without a win (seven).”
ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey notes that several Cincinnati players returned to practice on Thursday.
In this ESPN Insider piece, Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. has a nice breakdown of some of the key matchups in Sunday’s contest between San Diego and Cincinnati. He predicts a Bengals win, 24-14.
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated also likes the Bengals, 34-24.
Dave Birkett the Detroit Free Press has more on Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s potential candidacy for the head-coaching job with the Lions.
Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today writes that San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o is finally in his comfort zone.
Michael Lev of the Orange County Register wonders if the Chargers can take advantage of the team’s miraculous second-chance opportunity.
Nick Canepa of U-T San Diego takes a cold walk down memory lane with Dan Fouts to the last time the Chargers played Cincinnati in the playoffs, the 1982 Freeze Bowl.
John Gennaro of Bolts from the Blue debates if the Chargers are the most dangerous team in the postseason.