The Ravens head into San Diego tonight looking for a win to stay in a good spot in the tightly contested AFC playoff race and also maintain their lead over the Steelers in the AFC North. At the same time, the Chargers are looking for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Ravens come into tonight’s game with a record of 10-3, which puts them in second place in the AFC behind the Texans (10-3), who are in first via a tiebreaker. They have the same record as the Steelers, but own first place in the AFC North because they defeated Pittsburgh in both of their meetings this season.
Baltimore is on a four game win streak, and in the last three they have not allowed more than ten points to either of the three teams. Given two of those teams were the Browns and the Colts, but the six points allowed to San Francisco was an impressive accomplishment.
The defense will have to step up to the occasion, as the Chargers have scored a combined 75 points in their last two games. Ray Lewis has practiced all week and is expected to play, after missing the last month due to a toe injury. The team has already won four in a row without him in on the field, so his return will only bolster the already strong Ravens defense.
On offense, the Ravens will have to focus on running the ball. The Chargers have the seventh ranked pass defense, and will certainly give Flacco and the receivers a tough time. It would be foolish not to base the offense off of Ray Rice and the run game, as Flacco seems to make mistakes when he is forced to pass the ball too often. Rice has 1,029 yards on the year with ten touchdowns, so he should be the focal point of the playcalling.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have won two straight games, over the Jaguars and the Bills, but it may be a little too late. After starting the season 4-1, the Chargers lost six games in a row, with the largest margin of victory being eleven points. They have had trouble closing out games, which was evident on the infamous Monday Night game on Halloween when Philip Rivers fumbled the snap which would have set up a chip-shot game winning field goal.
For the Chargers to even make the playoffs, they would have to win the rest of their games. This is no easy task, with their last three games being against the Ravens, Lions, and Raiders. On top of that, they would have to catch up to Denver, who is two games ahead of the Chargers with three games remaining. This will also be difficult as the Broncos have the Bills and the Chiefs in their last two games, after the showdown against the Pats’ today.
San Diego’s chances are slim, but since they are still alive, they have to play like it. This will be no easy task going up against Baltimore’s third ranked overall defense. They will have to take shots through air, and put trust in Philip Rivers, who has not thrown an interception in his last three games.
For the Chargers to even have a shot, they will have to take care of the ball. The Ravens have slipped up in games against Jacksonville and Seattle this year, but they will not let that happen again this late in the season.
Prediction: Baltimore 24 | San Diego 21
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers
- Ravens-Chargers Date: Sunday, December 18th at 8:20 PM on NBC
- Ravens-Chargers Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
- Ravens-Chargers Point Spread: Ravens -1.5
- Ravens-Chargers Over-Under Odds: 44