Five Things to Watch in Ravens vs. Chargers
As the Ravens (8-2) head into Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Qualcomm Stadium, here's a checklist of some key areas to keep an eye on.
-- Aaron Wilson
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1. Will the Ravens finally solve the Philip Rivers puzzle?( Donald Miralle, Getty Images / November 1, 2012 )
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers absolutely dissected the Ravens' defense last season, and he didn't even need a scalpel. Just a strong throwing arm to deliver shots downfield as he connected on 17 of 23 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Although Rivers remains capable of inflicting damage on the Ravens' vulnerable defense, he hasn't been himself this season, for the most part.
Yes, he's completed 67.1 percent of his throws for a respectable 2,461 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, he's also thrown 14 interceptions and has been sacked 26 times as he works behind a porous offensive line.
He has weapons to exploit in Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and Danario Alexander, but none of those players are as dangerous as Vincent Jackson, who's now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Ravens' cause is bolstered by free safety Ed Reed's one-game suspension for helmet-to-helmet contact being overturned and replaced with a $50,000 fine.
Also, the play of cornerbacks Cary Williams and Corey Graham has been encouraging lately with Lardarius Webb (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Jimmy Smith (sports hernia surgery) sidelined.
As inconsistent and erratic as Rivers has been this season, he has huge targets to throw to and the Ravens figure to have at least some difficulty containing the Chargers' passing game.
"Thankful for another opportunity to go against Philip after he sliced us and diced us last year, sure," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And it will be a big challenge. He's a great player. Between the quarterback and their receivers, they're maybe the most talented passing group in the league."