On paper, it's easy to see why the Bengals are favored against the Chargers. The Bengals were 8-0 at home this season and racked up a +141 point differential in the process. They beat the Chargers, 17-10, in San Diego and won five of their last six games. But nothing is as easy as it seems for the Bengals in the playoffs.
Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since 1990 and is 0-4 under Marvin Lewis, including two home losses. While Andy Dalton has been solid during the regular season -- averaging 7.0 yards per attempt with a 85.7 passer rating -- he's been a disaster in the playoffs. Dalton is yet to throw a touchdown in two postseason games. He's averaged just 5.3 YPA in the postseason with a passer rating of 48.6. Philip Rivers has been up-and-down during his postseason career, but has a 3-4 record and led the Chargers to a huge upset win on the road against Indianapolis in 2007.
If the Chargers are going to pull an upset this year, they'll have to do it against a very good Bengals defense. Cincinnati's defense finished second in yards per play, yards per pass attempt and third-down conversion rate. San Diego's offense fared well in all three categories, finishing fifth in yards per play, fourth in yards per pass attempt and first in third-down conversion rate. Something will have to give on Sunday.