Baltimore ( 8-2) @ San Diego (4-6)
AT: Qualcomm Stadium – Nov. 25th – 4:05pm
Last year the Ravens were embarrassed losing to San Diego at 43-14 led by Phillip Rivers. This year though San Diego has been inconsistent. Part of their struggling record is due to quarterback Phillip Rivers and a weak offensive line. They’ve also lost a key receiver in Vincent Jackson (free agency). As a result, Rivers leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and many of them have cost his team games. The Chargers defense is a brighter spot as they have been one of the better units upfront against the run (ranking 3rd in rushing yards allowed).
Though the Ravens have had success on the road, the offense seems to be the unit struggling the most away from M&T Bank Stadium. Last week in Pittsburgh the unit could barely get the run game going and QB Joe Flacco was not in sync. The offense needs to show up for these road contests and play-calling will be a critical down the stretch. The defense while suffering injuries, has gotten some swagger back and last week in Pittsburgh was a good confidence builder. The unit has defensive coordinator Dan Pees calling better games (up in the booth) and Suggg’s presence has given boost to the front seven.
CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UPS
Ravens Pass Rush vs. Chargers O-line:
The Chargers have played better when former Ravens, LT Jared Gaither is in the line up. This year however, Gaither has had several injuries that have kept him out of ball games (only 4 GS). In fact, the talk in San Diego is all about how awful the offensive line is for the team. With Suggs getting back to health and OLB Kruger improving the Ravens might have the advantage in this match-up. QB Rivers has been sacked 26 times. Suggs vs. LT rookie Michael Harris (Jared Gaither). Harris is a rookie free agent and Suggs should be able to apply pressure this game.
SS Bernard Pollard vs. TE Antonio Gates:
One of the more dangerous weapons is tight end Antonio Gates. He’s been a pro bowler for years and continues to put up great numbers. Gates has been slowing down some due to injuries. Still, he is a formidable receiver; size strength and speed. He’s been targeted 50 times by Rivers. He has 30 rec, 355 yards, and 4 TD’s.
Chargers Receivers vs. Ravens Secondary:
Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander are capable receivers. Both have size and speed which could give the Ravens secondary some trouble. In fact, the Ravens were considering signing Floyd at one time. This year he leads his team with 43 receptions and has a 14.9 ave. Corner Corey Graham (filling in the the injured Webb) had a fantastic game versus the Steelers last Sunday and that is a huge positive moving forward. FS Ed Reed won his appeal of the NFL suspension, and will not have to sit this one out.
Ray Rice vs. Chargers Run D:
Probably one of the better units at getting after the run game, ranked 3rd in rushing yards allowed (87.9). Led by John Pagano (Chuck Pagano’s brother), the unit has improved containment of the run and quarterback pressure. The offensive line will have their hands full up against Shaun Phillips (5 sacks) as well. The interior of the offensive line for Baltimore still can’t find consistency with run calls, as evident versus Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cam Cameron calls more unbalanced lines in short yardage and gets back to basics.
QB Joe Flacco vs. FS Eric Weddle:
Weddle is one of the better safeties in the NFL. He has the ability to read plays and last week had an interception return against Peyton Manning. Weddle has 57 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. The Chargers secondary ranks 19th versus the pass (236.0).
RAVENS WEST: Former Baltimore Players with San Diego:
OLB Jarret Johnson
OLB Antwan Barnes
CB Chris Carr
LT Jared Gaither
FB Le’Ron McClain