In what could be a wild card round preview, the Ravens travel to LA to take on the Chargers. The Ravens lead the all time series 6-5, and the 2 have split their previous 2 matchups dating back to 2014.
The Ravens are fresh off a 20-12 win over Tampa Bay. In week 12, they beat the Falcons 26-16, and lost 27-14 to the Chiefs in week 13.
The Chargers came back to beat the Chiefs 29-28 on Thursday night. In week 12, they beat the Steelers 33-30, and beat the Bengals 26-21 in week 13.
Intertops have the Chargers as 4.5 point favourites with an O/U of 45.
The Ravens have fully transitioned to Lamar Jackson as their quarterback of the future. Their offense is ground game heavy, utilizing Jackson as a runner. Through the air, Jackson has thrown for 818 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs while completing 58.9% of his passes and averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. Willie Snead leads the team in receptions with 61 to go along with 626 yards and a TD. Michael Crabtree (51/567/3) and John Brown (39/681/5) are also heavily utilized. On the ground, the run game is led by Gus Edwards who has rushed for 550 yards and 2 TDs on 111 carries while Lamar Jackson is heavily featured as well with 114 carries for 566 yards and 3 TDs.
The Ravens scoring defense is ranked 1st, allowing just 18.1 PPG. Their pass defense ranks 3rd, allowing 202.6 yards per game and 18 TDs through the air while their pass rush ranks in the top 10 with 39 sacks. Their run defense is ranked 3rd, allowing 87.6 yards per game and 10 TDs on the ground.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are clicking at the right time and look like one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL after their win over the Chiefs. Philip Rivers has been among the best QBs in the league this season, throwing for 3951 yards, 31 TDs, and 8 INTs while completing 69.4% of his passes and averaging 8.8 YPA. Keenan Allen leads the team in receiving, catching 88 balls for 1074 yards and 6 TDs, while Tyrell Williams (38/618/5) and Mike Williams (37/592/9) provide redzone/vertical threats. Melvin Gordon is expected to return this week, and has rushed for 802 yards and 9 TDs on 153 carries before missing 2 weeks as well as catching 44 balls for 453 yards and 4 TDs.
The Chargers are ranked in the top 10 in terms of scoring defense, allowing just 21.3 PPG. Their pass defense ranks in the top 10 as well, allowing 225.4 yards per game and 21 TDs through the air while their pass rush ranks just below average with 34 sacks. Their run defense is ranked in the top 10, allowing 103.7 yards per game and 11 TDs on the ground.
The Ravens have a gameplan on offense resembling the Colin Kaepernick 49ers and are executing it to perfection with Lamar Jackson at the helm. The Chargers defense is ranked in the top 10 in every major category, but have not faced an attack like the Ravens present. The Chargers lack size up front, and love to use 3 safety looks on base downs, which plays right into the Ravens run heavy approach. If and when Jackson has to throw is when things get dicey, and if they can attack the short areas of the field and force the Chargers to rally and tackle they should remain in a positive gamescript.
The Chargers offense faces possibly their toughest task to date in a Ravens defense that has been a juggernaut. Philip Rivers will have his hands full throwing down the field with the Ravens excellent coverage, and face a fair amount of pressure behind an average offensive line up against a Ravens front that excellently schemes up pressure. This one should be interesting and should play down to the final possession.
Final Pick: Ravens (+4.5)