I tried not to hold it against him that the weather in San Diego is going to be mid 60's when in Cincinnati we are below freezing when I sent my questions along to John at BoltsFromTheBlue.com. Aside from the weather, I did ask him 5 things pertaining to the matchup on Sunday, Below are his answers to my questions.
The Chargers have had to face back to back top defenses. Last week they caught a break with the injuries to Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. This week they face a Bengals defense that also has been able to pressure the quarterback and limit opposing offenses. How do the Chargers attack the Bengals defense?
Throughout the season, the Chargers have been one of the Top 3 offenses in the league while fielding the league's worst defense. It's a surprise when this team doesn't end up in a shootout.
The reason for the consistent success on offense is the myriad of tools they have on offense. Danny Woodhead has been a great receiver out of the backfield, Ryan Mathews has figured out how to be a successful running back (finally), rookie WR Keenan Allen is reminding many of Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates is still Antonio Gates, and Ladarius Green looks like one of the better receiving TEs in the league right now. The key to all of it is beautifully-designed plays by Ken Whisenhunt and early perfect execution by Philip Rivers.
So, to answer your question, the Chargers will attack the Bengals defense in every way possible and then stick with whichever way works the best.
Does DJ Fluker play? What kind of affect has the first round pick had for the Chargers?
He does, and he will. He has started all but 1 game for the Chargers this year, and has switched over from right tackle to left tackle in recent weeks after injuries to King Dunlap and Mike Harris. It looks like Dunlap will miss his third consecutive game on Sunday, which means Fluker will continue to start at left tackle.
Despite scouts saying that he's a right tackle only, he has actually been quite good at both right and left tackle. He has 1 or 2 bad plays per game from the left side, but that's to be expected from a guy that has never played over there and had about a week to learn how to do it. Speed rushers can beat him occasionally, but Rivers has really only faced heavy pressure in 1 game this season (the loss to the Raiders), so I expect the offensive line to continue to keep him upright.
It seems the Chargers are a team that is built to play in shootouts. What scares you the most about the Bengals offense?
Oh, I don't know. At this point, being afraid of one particular thing from the opposing offense seems silly. The Chargers defense is so bad that the Bengals will be able to do just about whatever they want. Expect A.J. Green to get WIDE open running downfield a few times. Whoever is best on the Cincy offense at breaking tackles will have a good game, because the Chargers can't tackle. Andy Dalton should have a fine game because there are no pass-rushers left on this defense (unless Melvin Ingram plays, which I highly doubt).
I guess the answer is A.J. Green. He's the big play threat. The Chargers haven't been able to stop a #1 WR since....I guess when Justin Blackmon was limping around the field. Expect Green to put up huge numbers.
Name one player Bengals fans may not know about that could have a big impact in the game?
Ladarius Green! I've been crying his name since the preseason and the Chargers coaching staff has finally realized exactly how dangerous he is. A 6'6" tight end with the hands of a WR, the speed of a gazelle, and he's not too shabby of a blocker, either. Each week, Whisenhunt has been drawing up more plays for Green and Ladarius is responding. Against the Chiefs, he has 3 catches for 80 yards (including a 60 yard TD where he outran the Chiefs' secondary).
The Chargers have a legitimate shot at being the third AFC West team to make the playoffs this season. What do you think their odds are at this point?
Everything depends on this game. If they can beat the Bengals, and put together a winning streak, I'd put it somewhere around 75%. If they lose to the Bengals, it's significantly closer to 0%.
This team has been very "Dr. Jerkyll & Mr. Hyde" this season, and rookie head coach Mike McCoy is still trying to figure out how to carry momentum over from week to week, so it's impossible to know how they'll perform on Sunday.