Cincinnati Bengals: What L.A. Chargers coach said about Sunday’s game

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs upfield after a catch in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs upfield after a catch in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Chargers are still settling in at their temporary home on the campus of California State University following a move from San Diego last season, but they’ve given the new fan base something to latch onto in Year 2.

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The Chargers (9-3) have already matched their win total from last year (9-7), and coach Anthony Lynn said he likes the team’s focused approach each and every week. He spoke on a conference call Wednesday with Cincinnati-area media and discussed playing at the StubHub Center, his top talent this season and some thoughts on the Bengals (5-7).

Here is a look at five things he said going into Sunday’s matchup:

1. Rivers has raised his game

At age 36, quarterback Phillip Rivers is having one of the best seasons of his career, and Lynn said it all comes down to his preparation. Rivers studies the opposing defense better than most and it shows in how he plays on game day.

Rivers has thrown for 3,418 yards and 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions for a quarterback rating of 115.7, which ranks third behind only Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes (only Brees has fewer interceptions though).

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“He’s always been an outstanding talent, and this year and even last year, I like the way he runs our offense and gives us the right plays,” Lynn said. “He works his tail off during the week in preparation, and he’s prepared. When he steps on the field, the game is slower for him. He has a lot of experience, and because of his preparation, he is able to see things maybe some quarterbacks don’t see. He’s also able to help his teammates around him but the biggest thing is taking care of the football. He’s getting it to the right people and taking care of it. That’s all you can ask of your quarterback. He’s having an outstanding season.”

2. Allen is as consistent as they come

It helps Rivers that he’s got a reliable target in Keenan Allen, and the two have developed a great connection the past six years. Allen is on pace to almost match last year’s career season when he had 1,393 yards. He’s at 996 yards and five touchdowns now.

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“He’s a big threat,” Lynn said. “He’s a big receiver that can play multiple spots, outside, inside, we’ve moved him around a lot to try to get him open, and for a guy that’s 6-4, he has exceptional change of direction. He can be a nightmare to cover sometimes, but his ball skills are good, he is a very intelligent receiver, so he can find the soft spots in zones and Phil and him have developed this chemistry. .”

3. Bosa still working back

Former Ohio State University defensive end Joey Bosa returned a month ago from a foot injury that kept him out since the beginning of the preseason, but Lynn said he is still working back to his full ability. He has three sacks in three games so far after finishing with 12.5 a year ago as he earned his first Pro Bowl selection.

“I don’t know if you can come back in two or three games and be in full form,” Lynn said. “I think Joey is still getting better every single week. He was out about 13-14 weeks, but it’s good to see him back out there doing his thing. In my opinion, he’s getting better every snap so you haven’t seen the best of him yet.”

4. Chargers feeling cozy

The Chargers are feeling cozy in the StubHub Center, which holds just 27,000 and will serve as home until their new stadium opens in 2020.

Lynn said it’s been a good way to ease back into the Los Angeles market.

“It’s a unique experience,” Lynn said. “I think if you are an NFL fan it’s a great place to watch a football game. Every seat is a good seat. I don’t think you’re ever going to experience that type of intimacy with an NFL team again once we leave the stadium, so we enjoy playing here at home in front of our fans. It’s very exciting.”

5. Bengals offense will be better prepared

Lynn expects a better Bengals offense this week as quarterback Jeff Driskel has now had more time to prepare as the starter and get acclimated to his new role. The loss of Green just puts the Chargers' focus more on Tyler Boyd and John Ross.

“He’s got a strong arm, very athletic and sometimes that’s hard to defend,” Lynn said. “It’s hard to contain guys like that that can move like he moves. … With his arm strength, he can throw the ball wherever he wants. He has the arm strength and talent to do that, and his receiver corps is pretty bang-up. You’ve got Boyd having an outstanding year. They lost Green, but Ross is a guy that can score anywhere on the field. I watched him run the fastest 40 I’ve ever seen at the combine.”


SUNDAY’S GAME

Bengals at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., WHIO-TV Ch. 7, Ch. 12, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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