Keys to Victory: Bengals edition
I’m sure all Chargers fans would agree that it would be nice to start a season off with a win this time around. Historically the team is known for its slow starts but could this be a new era? There are a lot of mixed feelings amongst the talking figure heads on just how the Chargers will perform this year and I see a lot of them picking the Bengals to beat the Bolts. The people who disagree are the bookies, the people who put their money where their mouths are. As it is with most all games there will be a few key contributing factors as to how the game results will go. Here are a few of my Keys to the game.
Chargers D line vs. Bengals offensive line:
Usually this would be more of an obvious observation as most games come down to this. However in this particular instance it is much more important considering the strange circumstance that surround the season this year. The Bengals having Joe Burrow, a rookie quarterback, as the week one starter works in the Bolts favor. Now a lot of people assume that Burrow will look as sharp as he did during his phenomenal year at LSU. Yet no matter the success he had in college nor how much potential he has negates the fact that rookie quarterbacks who are asked to step in and be difference makers from day one usually are underwhelming. This year that could be even more true than most other years as a rookie quarterback who has no game reps under his belt at the NFL level due to no preseason this year doesn’t equal a great formula. That is as long as the Bolts defensive line never lets him get too comfortable in the pocket. With the Bengals offensive line being a huge problem for them going against the likes of Joseph Linval, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and even Uchenna Nwosu it’s enough to make for a disastrous day for a rookies debut.
Things will be completely reversed on the other side of the ball however as the Chargers also have some questions on the offensive line. This brings me to my next point.
Chargers O line vs. Bengals D line:
The Chargers most glaring weak spot last season was the offensive line and it’s no secret. While the team did a great job addressing the problem by bringing in all pro right tackle Brian Balaga and right guard Trea Turner, it still leaves unanswered questions at other positions. More particularly at left tackle as it was announced that the ever fan favorite Sam Tevi will be starting as the blindside protector. Also with Pouncey likely missing week one action can Dan Feeney be more consistent this year? Will Forrest Lamp actually get on the field? These are all fair questions and concerns especially considering what Cincy’s defensive line looks like. They already Geno Atkins who has been a steady and consistent force on the Bengals defensive line since 2010. In fact according to pro football focus he has posted an 85 defensive grade or higher 5 out of his nine seasons along with three of them being above a 90 grade. The offseason addition of prized free agent and defensive tackle DJ Reader only shores up their interior defensive line. Reader himself posted an overall grade of 85.4 last season with Houston. Then you factor in the Carlos Dunlap at defensive end who posted an 89.7 grade last year paired with young emergent fellow defensive end Sam Hubbard and one must think that the Bolts offensive line will certainly have their hands full. Last season DJ Reader certainly had his way with Dan Feeney during the game against the Texans. I have more faith in the right side of the line with addition of Turner and Balaga but the left side is going to be hold the keys too how well this offense operates. Having a mobile quarterback this year certainly helps the cause however this is simply a band aid to the real issue. Now having the offense run a lot more run pass option and quarterback keepers will certainly help keep the defense on its heels but this will most likely be a key factor all season long.