Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati DE
The last time the Bengals visited San Diego — 364 days ago — Dunlap had the best game of his career and won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. The fourth-year, $40 million man is on his way to the best season of his career with a team-high seven sacks, a number he surely will have a chance to add to against the pass-happy Chargers.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati WR
A California native, Jones is heading back to the site where he made his first career start last year. And while he is not the team’s No. 1 receiver, he is emerging as the No. 1 indicator. The Bengals are 5-0 when Jones scores in his career, and he’s averaging 3.4 catches for 53 yards in the seven wins this year compared to 1.7 receptions for 18.7 yards in the four losses.
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati K
Four of the last five games between these teams have been decided by one score, and the Bengals have had four games this season decided on the final play. There’s no reason to think this contest — in which the Chargers are favored by a single point — won’t be close as well, which means Nugent’s right leg could be the different between victory or defeat.
Eddie Royal, San Diego RB
Though he has started just four of 11 games, Royal already has scored a career-high seven touchdowns, and his average of 14.2 yards per catch also will be a career high if it stands up.
Nick Hardwick, San Diego C
The consistent stalwart in what has been a revolving-door offense line, Hardwick has been snapping the ball to Philip Rivers for 10 seasons and is a big reason why the Chargers have allowed only 20 sacks this year, which are the fourth fewest in the NFL.
Eric Weddle, San Diego CB
A Pro Bowler two years ago, look for Weddle to provide the over-the-top help against Bengals two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, who got free to catch nine passes for 85 yards in last year’s game against the Chargers.