AFC Wild Card Expert Picks – San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati BengalsNoah Williams
It’s been nearly a quarter century since Cincinnati won their last playoff game, but they’re the easy take in my AFC wild card expert picks as they get set to host the San Diego Chargers. Bengals fans are familiar with playoff woes since this team has gone 0-5 SU in their last 5 post season appearances. That skid should be snapped this weekend as another streak remains intact.
The Cincinnati Bengals are an automatic take at home no matter what you think. They’ve posted a dazzling +17.7 point differential at home while going 8-0 SU and ATS. I can’t really explain why they play so badly away from home, but they’re not the only team that has that habit. They’re simply the only one that has such a glaring disparity between their home and road statistics.
In their last three road games, Cincinnati went 2-3 SU and ATS, which includes a bare cover against a +2.5 line in a 27-24 win over Detroit (view more betting trends here). That stretch also included a curious 17-10 victory against San Diego as -2.5 road favorites. That game proved that San Diego can hang with these Bengals, but it’s hard to lean in Rivers’ direction because of Cincinnati’s incredible record at home.
The Chargers were a smoking hot team towards the end of the year, picking up a 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS record in their last 4 games. However, their regular season finale against Kansas City’s backups showed their limitations. The Chargers were fortunate to win that game after an illegal formation on a last second field goal by the Chiefs wasn’t called. The Chargers would go on to win the game in overtime and secure a stunning playoff berth.
This being said, the main reason to root for an upset is because of Philip Rivers who finished as a top-5 quarterback this year. Rivers finished with 4,478 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 picks and had the second highest passer rating behind Peyton Manning. There were moments were he simply took over games as well, like when he barraged Kansas City in a stunning 41-38 win. I’m warning you right now – Rivers is totally capable of leading an upset in this game despite the overall mess that the Chargers represent as a team.
The problem is that betting on the Chargers is hanging your wallet on a prayer. Cincinnati has been infallible at home this season and deserve to be pushed in my AFC wild card expert picks. I’m worried about Rivers, but I haven’t bet against Cincinnati at home in over two months. I’m not about to start right now.