Chargers vs. Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers have played some interesting games over the years, especially in the 1980's, the Ken Anderson and Dan Fouts eras. One of the most memorable games of all was the 1981 AFC Championship Game, the "Freezer Bowl", the coldest game in NFL history in terms of wind chill. The Bengals defeated the Chargers 27-7 in wind chills temperatures that reached 38 below. The Bengals went on to lose to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl that year. The Bengals lost the Super Bowl again in 1988 and really haven't been a playoff factor since, having not won playoff game since 1990. With young quarterback, some outstanding young skill position players and a solid 2013 draft the Bengals have the look of a playoff contender again.
2013 will be a big year for Andy Dalton. The third year QB has show strong flashes of solid play but the passing game has also struggled at times. They've worked hard to surround Dalton with weapons, likely increasing the pressure on him to perform in the process. In AJ Green the Bengals have perhaps the best young receiver in football. Second year receiver Mohamed Sanu is a big and athletic red zone target. The Bengals drafted Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame with the 21st overall pick. The big tight end has the ability to be one of the best tight end pass receivers in football. In the second round they took Giovani Bernard to share time in the backfield with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. With a solid offensive line the Bengals offense is primed to have a big year.
Last season Cincinnati was in the middle of the pack on defense, but have a solid core of talent including Vontaze Burfict, one of the steals of the 2012 draft. Burfict, Geno Atkins and Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson provide a strong defensive core. If the secondary, specifically Dre Kirkpatrick and Taylor Mays can step up and have solid years the pass rush of Atkins and Johnson should be even more dominant. The two combined for 25 sacks last season.