When the Chargers and Bengals meet on Sunday in San Diego with a first-round playoff bye at stake, the key for 9--4 Cincinnati won't be its pass-catch combination of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco but its starting cornerbacks, Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph, the best tandem in the NFL. The Chargers (10--3) have won eight straight by finding their rhythm on defense and a different hero every week on offense. Cincinnati's best hope is for its corners to take chances against Philip Rivers(below)—who likes to fit deep balls into small spaces—to force two or three turnovers that the Bengals' running game can turn into points. I said that's Cincy's best hope to win—not that a win is likely.
This is an article from the Dec. 21, 2009 issue
Chargers 27, Bengals 13
Now on SI.com
Peter King previews Week 15 in the NFL in the Game Plan at SI.com/NFL