The San Diego Chargers are looking for a little deja-vu in their match up this evening with the Baltimore Ravens coming to town. It feels a lot like last year when the two teams were in a similar spot. The Ravens were a top of the conference at 10-3 riding a 4 game winning streak while the Chargers were 6-7 coming off 6 consecutive losses. In this game, Phillip Rivers had one of his best games as a pro picking apart the Ravens defense and keeping them alive in the playoff hunt to the tune of 34-14.
The good news for the Ravens is that they will have the ball hawking safety Ed Reed patrolling center field in this one. As you recall, Redd missed several games last year with various injuries. Although they will still be without their captain Ray Lewis, don’t think that the Ravens forgot how embarrassed they were in their home park.
Now travelling to San Diego, the Ravens have been a tale of two teams – Unbeatable at home, and God awful on the road. Offensively, Flacco has been a wreck on the road, but they still average 26.9 points per game, which ranks 9th overall. They need to get superstar running back Ray Rice involved in the offense early to not make Flacco throw the ball 50 times.
Rice is having another solid year, among the top backs in football with 1034 yards from scrimmage, along with 7 touchdowns. He will the main focal point for the offense, that also features nice weapons in Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin on the outside. Look for Boldin have a nice game all over the yard, making the tough plays to keep the chains moving.
Defensively, the Ravens haven’t been that good. If Ben Roethlisberger was playing last week, they would be (7-3) on the year as they didn’t have the dominant performance you would expect from a motivated Ravens squad. They need to pressure Phillip Rivers to make mistakes, which he has been prone to do this year, if they want to win.
The Ravens have been the epitome of a bend but not break defense. They have given up 382 total yards per game, getting killed on the run, but still only given up 20 points a game. Now, the numbers can be a bit skewed because they have played Kansas City and a banged up Steelers team who were limited offensively. Look for the Chargers to try get into the red zone, but will have to come away with points, and not mistakes if they want to hang with the division leaders.
The Chargers are by no means out of the playoff hunt in a crowded AFC. Week 12 is a week that makes or break your chances as time is running out, and it’s time to rally and play great football. Offensively, the Chargers have an above average quarterback in Rivers, a running back in Ryan Matthews who has been made of glass, and a couple nice weapons in Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, and waiver wire superstar in Danario Alexander
Defensively, the Chargers ave been good, ranking 3rd in the league against the run. Look for them to be hungry and motivated and look for the same magic they had last year. If they can force Joe Flacco into 3rd and long situations, they are only picking up 33% of conversions – this will be a key to victory.
SO what happens? This will be a tight game down to the wire. I think Baltimore’s defense makes the plays necessary to have Joe Flacco make a long drive late in the game for a winning field goal. Ravens win
Fantasy land – Ray Rice, Ryan Matthews, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Gates
Sleeper – Dennis Pitta