Dec 1, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals halfback BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) carries the ball in for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

AFC Playoffs: Keys to Beating the Cincinnati Bengals

The NFL Playoffs are upon us. This weekend features four Wild Card games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. With the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles already eliminated, we are officially down to 10 teams. It only takes three or four wins to be crowned champion.

The Bengals finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, good enough for first place in the AFC North and third seed in the AFC Playoffs.The Bengals were one of three teams in the NFL to be undefeated at home; but they were a completely different team on the road.

Thankfully for the Cincinnati Bengals, they will play their first playoff game at home. The Chargers will need to play their best game to hand the Bengals their first home loss since Dec. 9, 2012. There are a couple things they can do to increase their chances of upsetting the young and determined Bengals.

The teams that have beaten the Bengals have been able to build up an early lead, and force the Bengals to play from behind. When the Bengals have the early lead, they can dictate the flow of the game. It allows them to run the ball and pass the ball in a balanced attack, which is lethal for opposing defenses. The one-two combo of Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounding the run, along with a premier playmaking wide receiver A.J. Green stretching the defense, creates plenty of headaches for opposing defenses.

Cincinnati’s defense has been spectacular this year. They ranked fifth in rush defense, fifth in pass defense, and third in total defense. They have the ability to completely swing the momentum with a timely interception or forced fumble. If you plan to beat the Bengals, you must keep heavy offensive pressure and eliminate mistakes so their dynamic offense isn’t given any advantage with good field position.

Andy Dalton has proven to be one of the better quarterbacks in this league. He has all the skills to succeed in the NFL, and the last test is whether or not he can win in the playoffs. If you put  the pressure on Andy Dalton, your defense will be successful. In both losses where Dalton tossed three interceptions, he was also sacked five times. The pressure forces Dalton into quick decisions, which has proven to be costly for the Bengals.

The Cincinnati Bengals are a team that nobody wants to see in the playoffs. The first up to try to weather the storm: the San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers had one of his best statistical seasons, and took the Chargers to an unexpected playoff berth. We will see if he has any magic left for the post season.

(Keys to Beating the San Diego Chargers) (Keys to Beating the Indianapolis Colts) (Keys to Beating the Kansas City Chiefs) (Keys to Beating the New Orleans Saints) (Keys to Beating the Philadelphia Eagles)

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Tags: A.J. Green AFC Playoffs Andy Dalton Giovani Bernard New England Patriots

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