Free NFL Pick: San Diego at Cincinnati 12-26-2010

December 26, 2010

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San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday December 26th, 2010 4:05 PM EST

Line: San Diego -8

Overview:

The Cincinnati Bengals snapped their ten game losing streak with a win against Cleveland last week. The Bengals may have only experienced a minor turn around, but it has to be refreshing for the fan base to see them give any team fits. They look like they are going to be selecting in the top five picks regardless of what happens in the last two games.

The San Diego Chargers have forced two consecutive blowout wins. One was against the Matt Casselless Chiefs. The other was against the 49ers, who are still having trouble deciding who is starting at quarterback in Week 16. The Chargers are 6-1 over their last seven games and always play their very best football at the end of the year. It is unclear whether or not they are going to be able to catch the first place Chiefs, but one botched game against a team like the Bengals could seal their fate.

Keys to the Game:

  • Philip Rivers has a 105.7 quarterback rating this season and is making his case for being an elite quarterback in the NFL. Rivers has played lights out and does not have a very talented receiving corp to toss the ball around. The entire offense is predicated off of the passing game and Rivers has shown no signs of slowing down. Vincent Jackson and Legedu Naanee are the leading receivers this week with Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd out and Rivers should have no problem distributing the ball against the Bengals.
  • Carson Palmer is going to have a difficult time taking advantage of the number one pass defense in the NFL. The Chargers are going to likely send the house at a struggling Palmer and the more the Bengals decide to throw the ball, especially with a their star receivers hurt, the more they are going to struggle. Cedric Benson is the key to this game. The Chargers are stout against the run as well, but airing the ball out is going to render poor results with the way the Bengals’ receivers have been dropping and Carson Palmer’s shaky play.

Key Matchup:

Andrew Whitworth Vs. Shaun Phillips

  • Shaun Phillips has four sacks in the last five games. If he is able to really pressure Palmer, he could force the Bengals into a bad situation early. It is unclear if the Bengals are going to be able to head off the Chargers’ pass rush entirely, but if the y have one guy they need to keep an eye on, it’s Phillips. Allowing him to come free due to confusion is unacceptable.

Wrap Up:

Everything about this game screams Chargers, but a quick look at the margins of defeat the Bengals have suffered at home may say otherwise. The Chargers are playing for their playoff lives and will likely put forth their best effort. This is exactly what I would put the spread at, but I am going to side with the Bengals.

Free NFL Pick: Cincinnati +8


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