The Baltimore Ravens are set to host a rematch with the Los Angeles Chargers, the team that Baltimore manhandled just two weeks ago. The Chargers will seek to avenge themselves on the road. The Chargers come into Baltimore with more confidence that the team had before the matchup in Los Angeles. The Chargers are very good at winning on the road, the best in the conference to be exact. Los Angeles boasts a 7-1 record on the road, and as a wildcard team, they will likely be the road team throughout. A win in Baltimore would put the Chargers in a position to compete for a Super Bowl, but the Ravens have no plans to allow it. There are three keys to the game that, if the Ravens achieve, will make them the winners.
Ravens Ground Game Must Dominate
The Baltimore Ravens offense wins on the ground. Period. Yes, the Ravens can move the ball through the air, but the effectiveness on the ground is all that’s needed. In the first matchup between these two teams, the Baltimore Ravens only rushed for 159 yards on the ground. As a result, the offense did not dominate in the time of possession category. Baltimore only held the ball for 31 minutes and 25 seconds. The Chargers struggled on offense in the first matchup, but Baltimore can’t assume the same will happen again. The Chargers have 4 quarters of experience with the Ravens under their belt, and will fine-tune the playbook to counter what the Ravens did in Week 16. If Baltimore can’t control the tempo of the game and keep the Chargers offense off the field, the Ravens can’t expect to win.
Defense Must Stifle Phillip Rivers
If the Ravens are going to control the clock, they’re going to have to stop the prolific Chargers offense as well, and the best way to do that is to stifle Phillip Rivers. Baltimore managed to prevent Rivers from playing at a high level. The Ravens defense will need a similar performance on Sunday. Baltimore will need to play tight coverage on the wide receivers in Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Mike Williams. The Ravens will also need to apply pressure to Rivers. Rivers is a statuesque quarterback, and cannot extend a play as a mobile quarterback can. Pressure applied to Rivers can end a play, and the Ravens need to take advantage of the leaky Chargers offensive line.
Ravens Must Convert in the Red Zone
Baltimore’s red zone efficiency as of late has been well below the average mark. The Ravens scored a touchdown on just 25% of red zone drives in the past three games, and in the game against the Chargers, Baltimore failed to score on all three red zone trips. The Baltimore Ravens need to improve on this inefficiency to ensure a victory over the Chargers. Los Angeles will capitalize on any and all mistakes by the Ravens especially failed red zone opportunities. Simply put, Baltimore needs to score once they enter the red zone.
The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the Chargers for a second time this season. Baltimore’s home field advantage and the early rise for the Chargers will give them enough edge to hit on all three of these goals. The final score will be 27-20.