This is a tough one since I care so little about either team. The Bengals have made the Playoffs 4 out of the last 5 years but they haven’t had a playoff victory since 1990. Their problem is that they have a tendency to give up the ball a lot in the form of interceptions. What’s notable about them historically is they were founded by the legendary Paul Brown after he was booted by the infamous Art Modell from his eponymous team and played for many years in Cleveland Browns uniforms that Brown owned and took with him in the breakup. His son and heir Mike Brown is pretty much universally regarded as one of the dumbest owners in the NFL, which is saying a lot.
The Chargers haven’t been in the Playoffs since 2009 and contrary to their past playbook are primarily a running team. This will be interesting since the Bengals are tough against the rush, giving up only about 100 yards a game on average. The Chargers are one of the original AFL teams and are currently the only NFL team in Southern California since the Rams decamped Los Angeles in 1994. If you want to find a reason to hate them, they employ Manti Te’o of the dead girlfriend hoax fame. You remember that one don’t you?
One of the enduring stories of Notre Dame’s 2012 season was Te’o’s strong play following the death of his grandmother and girlfriend… In January 2013, the sports blog Deadspin revealed that the existence and death of his girlfriend had been faked. An acquaintance of Te’o confessed to orchestrating a hoax that lured Te’o into an online relationship with a nonexistent woman.
The other big plot line is snow in Brown Stadium (I’ll give the Bengals that, it’s still named after Paul Brown and not some faceless corporation). Some are predicting it in buckets, others that it will be warm enough to be just freezing rain. It shouldn’t handicap either team, the Bengals play in crappy lake effect weather all season long and some of the Chargers’ biggest victories this season have been outside in the cold.