Advertisement

Scouting report for Chargers at Ravens

Scouting report for Chargers at Ravens

PASSING GAME

RAVENS: Joe Flacco hasn't put up huge numbers the past two weeks, completing 34 of 51 attempts for 412 yards and two touchdowns, but he has gone two straight games without an interception for the first time all season. He's on pace to set career highs in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown passes. Torrey Smith has 14 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns over the past three games, after making just 18 receptions for 308 yards and three scores over his first eight.

CHARGERS: Philip Rivers was the early front-runner for NFL Most Valuable Player with 17 touchdown passes and three interceptions over his first seven games. But over the past four games, he has thrown five touchdown passes and six interceptions. Keenan Allen leads the Chargers with 61 receptions and 641 receiving yards, but the seemingly ageless Antonio Gates remains Rivers' top red-zone target, with nine touchdown catches overall. Malcom Floyd is a dangerous deep threat. EDGE: RAVENS

RUNNING GAME

Advertisement

RAVENS: Justin Forsett is 97 yards shy of 1,000 for this season. His 903 rushing yards rank third in the NFL, and his average of 5.8 yards per carry leads the league. As a team, the Ravens are averaging 132.4 rushing yards per game, sixth most in the NFL. With 1,456 rushing yards, the Ravens already have surpassed last year's total. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro didn't have a carry Monday against the New Orleans Saints for the first time since Week 2.

CHARGERS: When healthy, running back Ryan Mathews has been a difference maker. He rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown last week despite a third-quarter shoulder injury. He was inactive for seven games earlier this season because of a knee injury, a big reason the Chargers rank 27th in the league in rushing. The Chargers already have put three centers on injured reserve, leaving rookie Chris Watt to have to deal with Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams inside. EDGE: RAVENS

RUSH DEFENSE

RAVENS: The Ravens gave up more than 100 yards rushing against the Saints for just the third time all season, but 67 of those yards came on a reverse to wide receiver Joseph Morgan. Take that carry away, and the Ravens held the Saints to 59 yards on 20 carries. They have gone 21 consecutive games without allowing an opposing player to rush for 100 yards. The strength of the Ravens run defense continues to be the interior, with Ngata and Williams.

CHARGERS: The Chargers have allowed a single 100-yard rusher this season — the Denver Broncos' Ronnie Hillman, in Week 8 —and opponents are averaging just 108.8 rushing yards per game against them. It's not a dominant run defense, but it's a respectable one. Manti Te'o has five tackles over the past two games after missing six games with a foot injury. Corey Liuget is a load to deal with inside. Former Raven Jarret Johnson has started all but one game and has 34 tackles and a sack. EDGE: RAVENS

PASS DEFENSE

RAVENS: After allowing 420 passing yards to Drew Brees, the Ravens and the NFL's 29th-ranked pass defense enter another matchup against a top quarterback. Only the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles are allowing more than the Ravens' 264.6 passing yards per game. Most concerning, the Ravens have allowed 40 passing plays of at least 20 yards, seventh most in the league. The Ravens have 24 sacks over the past six games, nine of them by Elvis Dumervil.

CHARGERS: Brandon Flowers, who signed with the Chargers after receiving interest from several teams, including the Ravens, is a big reason for San Diego's sixth-ranked pass defense. The Chargers, now without promising rookie Jason Verrett (shoulder), have struggled to get after the quarterback and make plays on the ball. They are at the bottom of the league in sacks (18) and interceptions (six). Eric Weddle is their top playmaker. EDGE: CHARGERS

SPECIAL TEAMS

RAVENS: Without much fanfare, the Ravens continue to get standout special teams play. Justin Tucker has converted nine straight field-goal attempts and could be on his way to another Pro Bowl. Sam Koch continues to give the Ravens a field-position edge, having put 21 of his 37 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line this season. Tucker and Koch have combined with the Ravens' coverage teams to stifle opposing return games. Led by Jacoby Jones, the Ravens are also second in the league in kickoff-return average.

CHARGERS:Nick Novak (Maryland) had made a franchise-record 32 consecutive field-goal attempts until he missed a try from 48 yards two weeks ago against the Oakland Raiders. Still, he's 18-for-19 this season and 2-for-2 from 50 yards and beyond. In his 12th season with the Chargers, Mike Scifres remains one of the league's most reliable punters. San Diego hasn't gotten much from its return game, which features Allen and Chris Davis. EDGE: RAVENS

INTANGIBLES

RAVENS: The Ravens continue to succeed at home and in November. They are 4-1 this season at M&T Bank Stadium, where they've limited opponents to a league-low 10.6 points per game. They are 11-0 all time at home against West Coast-based teams. They also are 22-8 in November under John Harbaugh, including 10 straight wins. The Ravens had a short week to prepare after their Monday-night win, but they came out of New Orleans relatively healthy.

CHARGERS: The Chargers responded to a three-game skid by winning back-to-back home games against lowly opponents: the Oakland Raiders (1-10) and St. Louis Rams (4-7). San Diego is 0-2 all time at M&T Bank Stadium and historically has struggled on the road, especially in early-afternoon games against East Coast-based teams. San Diego is 2-3 on the road this season, and the Chargers haven't had a winning road record in a season since 2009. EDGE: RAVENS

PREDICTION

As much as the Ravens needed to beat the Saints to keep pace with their AFC North foes and the rest of the AFC playoff hopefuls, this is an even bigger game. The Chargers are a wild-card contender, and the Ravens can ill afford to lose a potential head-to-head tiebreaker. And they shouldn't. They appear to be a more balanced team and are playing at home, where they've been mostly dominant this season. Rivers is always dangerous, but the Ravens should be able to impose their will and come away with a close victory. Ravens, 23-20

Advertisement
Advertisement