Week 13 is here, and I will once again try to figure out the Chargers (6-5).
Last week I took them at -3 against the Broncos and Denver won handily. Taking the Under was correct at least. I also wrote a prop article about them in Week 6 against the Ravens, which I thought would be a shootout. The Ravens wiped the floor with them, and I went 0-4 on props. Such is life.
Justin Herbert, you are no MVP in my eyes. I’d say you’re the least valuable player, as my trust in you has hurt my wallet this year.
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To start the 2020 NFL Draft, we saw three elite QB prospects selected in the first six picks. Come Sunday, we’ll get to see the first matchup between what looks like the two best of the group (sorry, Tua Tagovailoa).
Justin Herbert didn’t get to face Joe Burrow and the Bengals when the Chargers played them in Week 1 last season. As we likely all remember, the plan was to let Herbert “develop” on the bench behind Tyrod Taylor for a few weeks. The Chargers’ team doctor shortened the length of that plan, as he punctured Taylor’s lung while giving him an injection.
Herbert stepped into the starting role in Week 2 and ultimately wound up winning the AFC Rookie of the Year. An untimely and gruesome injury to Burrow made the decision for the award committee easy, but Burrow is healthy now and is ready to make a statement this time around.
Burrow and the Bengals (7-4) have far exceeded expectations in 2021. Week 12 saw Cincinnati pass their preseason win total in many books of 6.5, as Joe Mixon ran all over the Steelers. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is looking to stave off Mac Jones to take home the 2021 AFC ROY award, and Cincinnati is hoping to take a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Forecasts for Sunday in Cincinnati call for cool, sunny weather. And Coneys from Skyline.
With that said, let’s dive in the NFL pick of the day series. All odds and lines are current as of Friday, December 3 at 2 PM EST.
Chargers vs Bengals Prediction
The Bengals have undergone a metamorphosis is recent weeks. To start the season, Ja’Marr Chase set the league ablaze, smashing rookie receiving records through arbitrary timeframes. Opposing defenses have made an adjustment.
“Don’t let Ja’Marr beat us,” they say. Cover 2 defense employed, safeties on watch, the plan is working. Chase hasn’t topped 49 receiving yards since Week 7. All this has done is allowed for Joe Mixon to do his best Emmitt Smith impression. Mixon has scored multiple TDs in four straight weeks following Ja’Marr Chase’s 201-yard explosion.
- Check out our Chargers vs Bengals Prop Bets.
Mixon has not been the only benefactor of extra attention paid to Chase. After a slow start to the season, Tee Higgins has had three games of over 78 receiving yards, a number he did not top in the first seven games of the year.
Cincinnati’s defense is exploitable despite being top 10 in fewest points against, but their influx of talent on offense does their best to neutralize that. Tyler Boyd and C.J. Uzomah are not to be forgotten, providing valuable depth to the passing attack that ranks second in the league at 8.4 yards per passing attempt.
On the other hand, we have the woefully inconsistent Chargers. Their Week 3 win in Kansas City had them looking like a threat to take the #1 seed in the AFC, but losing at Denver and getting blown out by the Ravens—the same team that Cincinnati beat by 24—puts holes in any claims of the Chargers being Super Bowl contenders.
Los Angeles is banged up. Corner Asante Samuel Jr. missed last week’s game with a concussion, missing every practice during the week. They also had a COVID breakout, leading to multiple key losses to the defense, including DT Linval Joseph.
The story is mostly the same for the Chargers on offense. Starting OL Matt Feiler was inactive for their game last week, but should have a chance to play Week 13. Herbert will still be throwing mainly to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, while Austin Ekeler looks to do the dirty work in the red zone.
Cincinnati is healthy and determined to bring joy to the ever-disappointed fans of Cincinnati sports. At home, the Bengals should take this game handily.
Prediction: Bengals 34, Chargers 28
Chargers vs Bengals Best Bets
Best Bet: Bengals -3 (-115) at Caesars
Wager: 1.25 Units
Cincinnati clearly did some soul-searching after their Week 10 bye. Coming off bad losses to the Jets and Browns, the Bengals smashed the Raiders and Steelers.
Allowing the fourth-most points per game this year, the Chargers will have their hands full trying to stop the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL.
Joe Burrow started the year as the only QB to throw multiple passing TDs in their first eight games. His streak was snapped in Week 9 and he’s only thrown for two TDs over the last three games. Far from worrisome, the Bengals still put up an average of 29.7 points per game in that stretch.
Ranking in the top 10 of points allowed per game does not happen by accident—Cincinnati has a light schedule to start the year to thank for that. Regardless, there is still talent on Lou Anarumo’s unit.
Chidobe Awuzie has proven he can handle being the team’s top corner. Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard keep getting to quarterbacks. DJ Reader vacuums up anyone trying to run between the tackles.
This Bengals team is fit to compete. I’d be comfortable betting the spread to -5 in favor of Cincinnati.
Best Bet: Over 50 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1.5 Units
Despite their slow pace of play, Cincinnati puts up points at an elite rate. In last week’s 41-point effort against Pittsburgh, they were aided by an interception returned inside the 5 and a pick-6.
Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow both do their fair share of turning the ball over. These risks they take do not go unrewarded, as the Chargers also rank in the top half of the league in points per game.
This game should be competitive throughout. Both teams will be incentivized by the other to get the ball in the end zone to keep up. Neither defense will pose too much of a roadblock in doing so.
Despite two star running backs featured by both teams, don’t expect either team to grind out the clock in this one. The Bengals are creeping into a top-10 frequency of rushing plays called, while the Chargers have the third-lowest rushing rate in the league.
Both offenses can make huge plays and score in the blink of an eye. This game should be a blast to watch and has true shootout potential. I’d be comfortable betting the Over up to 54 points.
Dane Galloway’s 2021 NFL Betting Record: -11.08 Units
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