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NFL Playoffs: San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Wildcard Round (Open Thread)

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

I went 0-2 with my playoff picks on Saturday, but yesterday demonstrated that playoff-caliber teams can rebound when everything is on the line. The Colts were down by 28 points in the third quarter, yet rallied to beat the Chiefs 45-44. The Eagles were down 20-7 near the end of the first half, rallied to take a 24-23 lead with under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but lost on a game-winning field goal by the Saints, completing New Orleans' 26-24 victory. Can today's games live up to the same standards?

Today, we kick off with the San Diego Chargers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are the only team representing the AFC North this year, and they usually have the right combination of offense and defense to get the job done. In big games, their defense has stepped up to the plate. They defeated the Patriots 13-6 earlier this year, and they beat the Chargers 17-10 on December 1. They've taken their defensive injuries fairly well, still playing good defense without Geno Atkins or Leon Hall.

The big question mark for me is Andy Dalton. He threw 20 interceptions this year, which is way too many for a team trying to make a Super Bowl run. The Bengals' postseason luck has not been good over the past decade, where they keep going "one-and-done." Dalton faced the Houston Texans in the first round of the playoffs the past two years, and lost both games, throwing a combined 0 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.

Philip Rivers has been waiting a long time to get back to the postseason, and I've loved the season he's had. He should be a dark horse MVP candidate with his 32-touchdown, 11-interception season. Rivers is rejuvenated, and the Chargers will be poised to make a splash in the AFC playoffs as they upset the Bengals. Chargers 27, Bengals 17


Game: San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Date/Time: Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Television: CBS - Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
NFL Odds: Bengals by 7