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SCOUTING REPORT

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ravens run offense vs. Chargers run defense: If the Ravens watched "Monday Night Football," they saw how the Oakland Raiders gashed the Chargers' run defense for 148 yards. That's why the Ravens might shift to a run-heavy game plan this week, relying on their three-pronged attack. Ray Rice gained 108 yards on 19 carries (5.7-yard average) in the season opener, and Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain scored touchdowns in the red zone. Chargers nose tackle Jamal Williams was placed on injured reserve Saturday with an elbow injury, ending his season. Edge: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Chargers pass defense: Coming off his first career 300-yard passing game, Joe Flacco plays for the first time this season on the road, where he actually played his best last season (91.7 quarterback rating). Tight end Todd Heap became a factor in the passing attack once again and should get similar chances against San Diego, which allowed Oakland tight end Zach Miller to go uncovered. The Ravens' biggest challenge is San Diego's pass rush. In a battle of former University of Maryland starters, the Chargers' top pass rusher, Shawne Merriman, goes against Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither, who struggled in the season opener. If Flacco is pressured, he has to be careful because cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer are ball hawks. Edge: EVEN

Chargers run offense vs. Ravens run defense: LaDainian Tomlinson missed practice with an ankle injury and will not play, which will significantly hurt San Diego's running game. His backup, Darren Sproles, is an electric returner, but he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry in the season opener. It'll be tough for San Diego to run the ball because center Nick Hardwick (ankle) is out and right guard Louis Vasquez (knee) is questionable. The Chargers likely will go with inexperienced backups, center Scott Mruczkowski (two career starts) and rookie Tyronne Green (a fourth-round pick). The Ravens look to be among the NFL's best run stoppers again this season after holding the Kansas City Chiefs to 29 rushing yards on 17 attempts (1.7-yard average). Edge: RAVENS

Chargers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: The Ravens couldn't consistently rush the passer against a marginal Chiefs offensive line. If the Ravens fail to pressure San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, he'll pick the secondary apart. When the Ravens didn't sack Rivers in their last meeting (2007), he threw for three touchdowns. With a banged-up offensive line, Rivers could use more three-step drops. The biggest matchup problem is Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who had 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns the last time he faced the Ravens. Two Ravens starters - linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs (ribs) and safety Ed Reed (concussion) - have injuries, but both are expected to start. Edge: CHARGERS

Special teams: The Ravens have to figure out a way to contain Sproles, who can change any game with his returns. The Chargers' Nate Kaeding is the second-most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history. San Diego punter Mike Scifres, who has a groin injury, is among the most underrated in the NFL. Ravens kicker Steve Hauschka was 1-for-2 on field-goal attempts from beyond 40 yards in the season opener. Sam Koch saw a punt blocked for the second time in his career last Sunday. Edge: CHARGERS

Intangibles: The Chargers had a short week after playing Monday night in Oakland, but the Ravens traveled cross-country. The Ravens were 1-3 on the road against playoff teams during the regular season in 2008. Even though the Chargers needed an extension to avoid a TV blackout, they have been one of NFL's best at home, going 20-4 at Qualcomm Stadium since 2006. Edge: CHARGERS

Prediction: This one will be determined by the pass rush. The Chargers will force Flacco to hurry his throws, and Rivers will have time to beat the Ravens downfield. Rivers might be joining Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger as the most troublesome quarterbacks for this defense. CHARGERS, 24-10

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