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Staff picks for Sunday's Ravens-Chargers wild-card game

Jen Badie

Ravens 23, Chargers 13

The Ravens defense has proved it can stop Philip Rivers, who had his lowest QB rating of the season (51.7) against the Ravens two weeks ago (they sacked him four times, forced two interceptions and were the only team to not allow him to throw a touchdown this season). Rivers didn’t exactly bounce back last week in the Chargers’ win against the Broncos; he was kept to his lowest-passing total of the year. Add in that John Harbaugh has never lost a wild card playoff game (5-0) and the Chargers have to travel coast to coast, and the advantage goes to the home team.

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Edward Lee

Ravens 21, Chargers 19

Despite a short week, the Los Angeles Chargers can be expected to be more prepared for what Lamar Jackson and Marty Mornhinweg like to do with the offense. And Philip Rivers will be fueled by some of the on-field conversations he had with a few Ravens defenders. Ultimately, the cross-country travel and road distractions will catch up to the Chargers, and the Ravens should be able to pull out a narrow win.

Mike Preston

Ravens 21, Chargers 17

The Ravens secondary struggled last week against the Cleveland Browns, but the group will rebound against Los Angeles, which has one of the better passing attacks in the NFL. When the Ravens beat the Chargers nearly two weeks ago, they were physically stronger and superior, and that will happen again Sunday. The Chargers don't have the muscle to beat the Ravens. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers isn't mobile and Ravens outside linebackers Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon and Za'Darius Smith will pin him in the pocket with no means to escape. Also, Rivers hasn't played well throughout his career in the postseason. He has a 4-5 record. It will drop to 4-6.

Peter Schmuck

Ravens 23, Chargers 20

It seems like the Ravens have already written the script for this and any other playoff games. They're going to keep everyone in suspense until the last possible moment. The oddsmakers have this game as pretty much a toss-up, so I'm going with the home-field advantage and one of the league's best-ever place-kickers. The Chargers have to go coast-to-coast this time and the Ravens defense just had a crash course in Philip Rivers two weeks ago.

Jonas Shaffer

Chargers 20, Ravens 16

The Chargers seemed to figure out the Ravens' rushing attack toward the end of their Week 16 meeting, and Philip Rivers is a smart enough quarterback to not make the same egregious mistakes twice. Lamar Jackson has to play mistake-free football for the Ravens to win. The Chargers' speed won't make that easy.

Childs Walker

Ravens 27, Chargers 21

Philip Rivers and Co. will be better prepared for the Ravens’ defense than they were in Week 16. But it’s hard to forget how resoundingly the Ravens pummeled the Chargers just two weeks ago. This one will remain tense until the fourth quarter, but the Ravens will wear down another opponent at home.

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