San Diego Bolts Past Cincy
Kiddos what have been telling you for the longest time? Don’t sleep on this sleeper San Diego Chargers’ ball club! Practically everything that I predicted would happen in this game (excluding my Ryan Mathews prediction), actually happened. Did the Chargers intercept Andy Dalton? Yes, they picked him off 2 times. Did they limit the Bengals running game? Yup, the Bolts held the Bengals back to only 87 yards on the ground. Did the Chargers score 27 points? You betcha’. And did the Chargers win and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs? Check, check and check. Anyways enough about my predictions, let’s look at exactly what happened in the game. What honestly happened was that the Chargers took care of business on all sides of the ball this past Sunday. Not only did San Diego intercept two Andy Dalton passes, they also were able to force 3 Bengal fumbles and recover 2 of them in the process (2 of those forced fumbles coming from Dalton). All of the credit can go to the Chargers front 7 in this game. Not only were the Chargers able to record 5 tackles for loss, they were also able to get pretty decent pressure on Andy Dalton who the Chargers sacked 3 times and caused to complete 29 out of his 51 passes for a completion percentage of just 56.8%. One negative thought I had about the Chargers was that had the defense not caused the Bengals to turn the ball over so much, the outcome of this game would be strikingly different. All season long the Bolts have failed to establish a solid secondary with their collection of Cornerbacks and Safeties. This season San Diego’s pass defense was the 4th-worst during the regular season, allowing an average of 258.7 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks along with 23 passing touchdowns. What surprised me the most wasn’t the amount of passing yards the Chargers allowed to Andy Dalton, but rather the fact that the Chargers held A.J. Green and the Bengals offense that has scored the 6th-most points this season (26.9 points per game) to just 10 points. The reason that the Chargers allowing Andy Dalton to pass for 334 yards doesn’t surprise me is primarily because this Chargers defense has played horrendously against the deep pass, one of the Bengals specialties (Dalton has 14 completions of 20 yards or more this season, including 4 of over 40 yards). It points out a discouraging sign for this Chargers team going forward. The entire AFC has some of the top passing Quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning especially. If the Chargers are going to survive from here on out their corners are going to have to work in synch with their safeties if they’re going to have any chances of stopping the passing attacks of the Patriots, Colts or Broncos. I’ll admit that the Chargers were pretty clutch and stopped they needed a big stop. However, against the much superior offenses of the Broncos and Patriots, the Chargers need their secondary to play lights-out and have their front seven put some noticeable pressure on the quarterback in order to win have even the slightest chance at getting to the Super Bowl. The key to a Super Bowl appearance is honestly their defense. Against the Bengals Philip Rivers and the Charger’s offense was operating on all cylinders. Rivers wasn’t over the top, but he was efficient enough completing 75% of his passes for 128 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to Ladarius Green. What really impressed me though was the Chargers running game and how well it functioned without the help of starter Ryan Mathews. With the efforts of Mathews, the tiny torpedo Danny Woodhead and gray-beard Ronnie Brown, the Chargers were able to come within 4 yards of the 200-yard mark. If the Chargers can repeat those types of performances in these next three games, the Super Bowl crown should surely be theirs.