Bengals-Chargers Preview

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
DECEMBER 20, 2009

TIME: 4:15 p.m.

PLACE: Qualcomm Stadium (Grass)

TV: CBS team of Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Phil Simms (analyst). Live on Channel 12 in Cincinnati, Channel 10 in Columbus, OH, Channel 7 in Dayton, OH, Channel 27 in Lexington, KY, and Channel 32 in Louisville, KY.

RADIO: Play-by-play man Brad Johansen and analyst Dave Lapham on 700-AM (The Big One), 1530-AM (Homer) and 102.7-FM WEBN on "Triple Cast" Cincinnati flagships of the 25-station Bengals radio network.

The game can also be heard on Sports USA Radio Network with Larry Kahn (play-by-play), John Robinson (analyst) and Troy West (sideline reporter).

INJURIES
CIN: Starting S Chris Crocker (ankle) and starting DT Domata Peko (knee) out. Peko is still recovering from a scope and the hope remains he'll be back for the Jan. 3 finale. RB and kick returner Bernard Scott (toe) was limited Thursday, but he could be back after missing the last three. Backup S Kyries Hebert (knee), the special teams captain who missed last week, was full go Thursday. So were nickel back Morgan Trent (knee) and RB Brian Leonard (calf).

SD: Starting OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He's been bothered by plantar fasciitis and while he'll play, he won't play regularly. Starting C Nick Hardwick (ankle) has been out of the lineup and didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday. Starting DT Jamal Williams is on injured reserve.
» Complete Injury Report

THE SERIES
Chargers lead, 18-11, 9-5 at home.

NOTEWORTHY» With a win the Bengals clinch their seventh division title and second under head coach Marvin Lewis.

» At 9-4 the Bengals look to win at least 10 games for the eighth time: 1973, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1988, 2005.

» The Bengals have won five times in San Diego. In four of the seasons (1970, 1973, 1981, 1990) they went to the playoffs. The only time they won there and didn't go was 2003.

» The Bengals are 14-13 in December under Lewis, 5-9 on the road.

» It is a battle of offense vs. defense. The Chargers have scored 20 or more points in 19 straight games, second behind New Orleans for the NFL's longest streak at 22. In their last 19 games the Bengals have allowed 20 points or less 13 times, 10 this season.

» In their last 19 games, the Bengals have scored 20 points in six of them.

» It is also the running game vs. the passing game. Chargers QB Philip Rivers has thrown 15 TD passes in San Diego's eight-game winning streak for 9.3 yards per throw. In his last eight games, Bengals QB Carson Palmer has thrown 10 TDs for 6.8 yards per pass.

» In their eight-game winning streak, the Chargers have scored 59 points in the first quarter, the Bengals 51 in the last eight games.

» The Chargers have allowed 10 first-quarter points in the eight-game winning streak, the Bengals 17.

» The Bengals haven't scored a second-half TD in the last six games, the last a one-yard run by RB Cedric Benson on Oct. 25 against Chicago.

» Chargers WRs coach Charlie Joiner, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, played four seasons for the Bengals (1972-75) before being traded for sack ace Coy Bacon. He caught 82 passes in 39 games for a 17.8-yard average and six touchdowns. In 55 games from 2005-2009, Chris Henry caught 119 passes for a 15.3 average and 21 TDs.

NFL RANKINGS
CIN: 19th in scoring, 20th in offense (6th rushing, 23rd passing); 5th in defense (third rushing, 12th passing), 13th in turnover margin at plus one.

SD: 4th in scoring, 14th in offense (31st rushing, fifth passing), 12th in defense (21st in rushing, 10th passing), fourth in turnover margin at plus-eight.

COACHESCIN: Marvin Lewis 55-53-1 regular season, 0-1 postseason in his seventh season, 1-1 vs. Chargers.

SD: Norv Turner 32-18 in his third season in San Diego, 91-101-1 overall in 12 NFL seasons; 0-0 vs. Bengals and Lewis.

THE WEATHER
The Bengals will be nearly 40 degrees warmer than their practices this week. The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for sunny skies with a high temperature of 71 degrees.

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