The San Diego Chargers' schedule this year hasn't exactly been a walk in the park. Here's how I break it out.
Sure you'd hope the Chargers would be a "good team", or at least one good enough to steal a game from one of the good teams they've faced. It hasn't worked out that way.
Outside of the Browns game, in which the Chargers didn't turn the ball over but neither team could get anything going in the rain, the outcome of the games has been fairly predictable (although, I suppose, you could argue that nobody knew the Bucs or Saints were good until after they played the Chargers). That leads me to believe that the Chargers are good enough to sneak out a win against a Bengals team that is been labeled as "average" this season.
There's Still A Chance
We may not want to admit it, but there's still a chance for the Chargers to make the playoffs. The Panthers, Jets and Raiders as the last three games of the season helps that chance, and the Steelers (who San Diego faces next week) look lost without Ben Roethlisberger (losing their last 2 games without him).
The players know and the coaches know that a 5 game winning streak, which would lead to a 9-7 record and a pretty good chance at grabbing the second wild card spot, is a realistic possibility. For that reason, they'll be playing as hard as they have all season (if not harder because now they know that there's no second chances if they make a mistake).
At this point, my favorite thing about Brandon Taylor is that he isn't Atari Bigby. That means that there is probably less of a chance of WRs running down the field completely uncovered in this game than there would be with Bigby out there. I'm counting that as a plus.
Jonas Mouton is also expected to get the start beside Takeo Spikes in the absence of Donald Butler, and that kid is such a mystery that he could be anywhere from great to terrible and it wouldn't be surprising. That means there's a chance for great!
Maybe most important of all, Jarret Johnson is listed as Questionable on the Chargers' injury report for the game. That means that this could be Melvin Ingram's first start, and he could get a large majority of the snaps.
If anything can get a team excited and give them momentum heading into a playoff run, it's big plays being made by rookies (and, well, Mouton is basically a rookie). Go get 'em, kids.