The Bengals may have set the tone for the season in Week 1. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly was the key to victory when you dominate an opponent in every aspect of the game. Cruising to a 30+ point lead would make every week a breeze for the Bengals; I don't think that is a real expectation though. So what do the Bengals need to do, or avoid, to come away with a win against the Chargers?
Pressure Philip Rivers
If you go by last week's stats, Rivers is the greatest QB in the NFL this season. He finished the game by completing 20 straight passes and topped 400 yards on the day. When Rivers is comfortable, he can pick apart a defense. The Bengals need to make him uncomfortable. This does not necessarily mean sacks (although, I will take them). By collapsing the pocket, making Rivers move and forcing throws early, the Bengals can create mistakes by this Chargers offense. A well timed mistake on the road for an NFL team can prove devastating. The Bengals could make that happen by making Rivers sweat.
No lock on Offense
The Bengals were successful last week because the defense could not key in on one player. By now, the Chargers have watched plenty of game film on Tyler Eifert and will be ready to stop him from having a huge day like he did in Oakland. That means there will be mismatches in other areas when the Bengals are on offense. Andy Dalton is going to need to find and exploit these opportunities and if he does, the Bengals will find a ton of success against the Chargers' defense.
Run the football
Not only will running the football help to set the pace for this offense, it also extends drives and doesn't allow San Diego to get in rhythm on offense. If the Bengals can find success with their one two punch of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, they can wear down the front of this defense and cruise to a victory.
You can use this one in any game and be correct, but the Chargers were down 18 points and rallied for a 5 point victory thanks in part to some bad turnovers from Detroit. The Bengals last loss to the Chargers was also a game where the Bengals held the lead at halftime before turnovers eventually did them in. You don't want to allow the Chargers to gain any momentum or opportunity by gifting them the ball. Any drive that ends with a kick in this game is a successful one.
Play solid corner
The Chargers are going to want to throw the ball and get Kenan Allen heavily involved in the game. Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones need to play sound football to not allow the San Diego wideout to get big plays. If the Bengals can limit the big play in the passing game, then, the defenders can stay more toward the line. This will help stop the short passes that can be turned into long ones by Danny Woodhead and Melvin Gordon.
Dan Fouts will be calling this game so you will no doubt be inundated with an announcer who has his mind made up before the first snap. What do you think the keys to a win in the Bengals' home opener are on Sunday?