By Dave Thomas
If you are the San Diego Chargers, you have to be a rather confident lot going into this Sunday’s AFC battle in Cincinnati (10 a.m. Pacific).READ MORE: Los Angeles Clippers Hold Off Lakers, 119-115
Down 21-3 to Detroit last Sunday in the season-opener, the Chargers roared back to score 30 unanswered points, leaving the field with a 33-28 win. While it was far from pretty at times, a win is a win.
With Detroit in the rear-view mirror, the Bolts turn their attention to Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Two seasons ago, San Diego (1-0) ousted Dalton and Co. in an AFC Wild Card game in Ohio. Given this is Cincinnati’s home opener, there’s little doubt that the Bengals have forgotten about that early-round exit from the playoffs.
Bengals Rout Raiders In Opener
While the Oakland Raiders are far from a playoff-caliber team, Cincinnati (1-0) still picked up an impressive win on the road last weekend to start the 2015 campaign.
The Bengals rolled to a 33-0 lead, settling for a 33-13 win over what could very well be one of if not the worst teams in the league this season.
In getting the win, Cincinnati (1-0) got a productive day from Dalton, who went 25-of-34 for 269 yards and a pair of TD’s. Meantime, running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 63 yards on a pair of touchdowns, while wide receiver Tyler Eifert caught nine balls for 104 yards and a pair of scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cincinnati limited Oakland to 246 yards of total offense and forced a pair of turnovers.
So, what will the Chargers need to do in order to potentially leave Cincinnati (San Diego leads the all-time series 20-14) with a victory?
For starters, keeping quarterback Philip Rivers upright and not rushed all day is key.READ MORE: Gaudreau, Tkachuk Lead Flames Over Ducks In Shootout
Rivers, who is far from the most mobile QB in the league, needs a solid effort from his offensive line in order to hit receivers and give rookie running back Melvin Gordon a chance to operate. In the win over Detroit, Rivers was sacked twice, yet through for 404 yards and a pair of TD’s (also was picked off twice).
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers will need to keep Dalton from feeling comfortable in the pocket. While he has struggled notably in the post-season, Dalton has had some impressive games during regular season affairs in his time in the league.
Lastly, going on the road in the NFL is never easy, so keeping the Bengals’ crowd out of the game would certainly behoove the Bolts.
Fluker And Jones Among The Injured
Even though it is only the second week of the NFL season, it does not take long for injuries to mount.
For San Diego, starting offensive guard D.J. Fluker (ankle) and wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones (ankle) were among those battling the injury bug this week. Fluker left last Sunday’s game on a cart after getting twisted in a pile and injuring his ankle. With an already questionable offensive line to boot, having Fluker out could create more issues in keeping Rivers from getting sacked.
On defense, outside linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) and corner Brandon Flowers (knee) also made the injury list. Williams did not practice on Thursday, while Flowers did complete a full session.
Jerry Attaochu, outside linebacker (hamstring)
Brandon Flowers, corner (knee)
Craig Mager, corner (hamstring)
Jahleel Addae, strong safety (ankle)
Kyle Emanuel, outside linebacker (shoulder)
D.J. Fluker, guard (ankle)
Jacoby Jones, wide receiver (ankle)
Johnnie Troutman, guard (arm)
Tourek Williams, outside linebacker (foot)
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.