Bengals vs. Chargers 2012 game preview: A tale of teams headed in different directions

Donald Miralle

The Chargers, in desperate need of a win, play host to a Bengals squad that is surging with wins in each their last three games.

It has been a rough year for Norv Turner's San Diego Chargers. The team jumped out to a 3-1 start and has since tumbled in the AFC West standings, often snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Their once-vaunted defense has struggled against the passing game and the offensive line has struggled to protect quarterback Philip Rivers, who has been sacked 10 times in the last two games.

The Bengals need a win to stay relevant in the hunt for an AFC playoff berth, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the Baltimore Ravens without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the game against the Chargers presents an opportunity to gain some ground in the AFC North standings. Cincinnati is likely to lean on the strength of its defensive line, which has notched four sacks in each of the last three games.

Meet the Chargers

The Chargers (4-7) have lost three consecutive games and are coming off a tough 16-13 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. Aside from a Week 9 win over the dismal Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego has lost six of their last seven games and -- barring a late-season surge -- have fallen out of the AFC playoff picture. The Chargers' recent slide has head coach Norv Turner on the hot seat yet again.

Meet the Bengals

Cincinnati (6-5) has bounced back from a four-game losing streak to win three games in a row, including a 31-13 upset of the New York Giants in Week 9. The Bengals have snuck back into the AFC playoff picture and are currently tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for second place in the AFC North at 6-5. Cincinnati will be without wide receiver Mohammed Sanu, who could be lost for the season after suffering a stress fracture that will require surgery on Monday.

Local Takes: San Diego Chargers

John Gennaro from Bolts From The Blue says this about the Chargers' clash with the Bengals:

Outside of the Browns game, in which the Chargers didn't turn the ball over but neither team could get anything going in the rain, the outcome of the games has been fairly predictable (although, I suppose, you could argue that nobody knew the Bucs or Saints were good until after they played the Chargers). That leads me to believe that the Chargers are good enough to sneak out a win against a Bengals team that is been labeled as "average" this season.

Local Takes: Cincinnati Bengals

Josh Kirkendall of Cincy Jungle thinks the Bengals will have a leg up on the Chargers due to Cincinnati's recent first half domination:

Expanding that thought by another quarter and the Bengals have done to opposing teams what Nicholas Cage does to movies. During the first half of Cincinnati's three game winning, the Bengals have outscored their opponents 62-12. If not for league rules, second halves could turn into MMA matches with a flair of WWE loyalty.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Bolts From The Blue and Cincy Jungle, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BFTB_Chargers

@CincyJungle

Prediction

Via Joel Thorman:

Losing a safety with A.J. Green coming into town isn't a good combination. The Bengals, winners of three in a row, beat the Chiefs and Raiders in their last two games. If it weren't for the Broncos loss, this would be an AFC West sweep.

The pick: 27-24, Bengals

Odds

The Bengals are favored by one point and as much as two points from some books after opening as two-point favorites, according to OddsShark.

Next Week

San Diego will head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in Week 14. The Bengals will play host to the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium.

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