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Game Preview: Ravens at Chargers

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o43/Serpent07/KC_ChargersRavens349crop.jpg"><img title="LaDainian Tomlinson vs Ray Lewis" src="http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o43/Serpent07/KC_ChargersRavens349crop.jpg" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson vs Ray Lewis" width="225" height="161" /></a></div>

    The high flying Baltimore Ravens (<em>1-0, tied for first place in the AFC North</em>) come into San Diego to face the Chargers (<em>1-0, first place in the AFC West</em>) vie for a chance to move on to 2-0, and continue to remain at the top of the league statistically and emotionally.

    Head to head this is a completely unbalanced game by the stats. Week one being what it is, that does not mean a whole lot, but the Chargers have a lot to prove, and on their own turf as well. The Ravens enter the game in the top of the league statistically in most categories, while the Chargers are hanging around the middle to bottom statistically.

    The Ravens are known for a hard hitting, fast defense, and while they have lost some key veterans on that side of the ball, they had a banner day against the Kansas City Chiefs last week statistically. They left the game in KC with a win and the second ranked rushing defense in the league after allowing only 29 yards on the ground. This in itself can be troubling for a San Diego Chargers team that has had troubles implementing a consistent running game. Preseason is of course no indication of how a team will play during the regular season. One need only look back to last season when the Detroit Lions were a perfect 4-0 in preseason and a perfect 0-16 in the regular season as an example.

    However, you can see trends, and the trend with the Chargers is that they are having difficulties opening holes and establishing the running game. Against preseason opponents the Chargers averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Against the Raiders in week one, that average dropped to 3.3 yards per carry.

    This plays into Baltimore's strength. They currently have a streak of 36 games where they have not allowed a 100 yard rusher. The Chargers failed to gain 100 yards on the ground against a Raiders team that in the recent past they had put high numbers up against rushing. The Chargers left week one with the 21st ranked rushing offense. Not what Charger fans, Coaches or players expected. They will be hard pressed to move up the chart statistically against the Ravens.

    Philip Rivers, Chargers star Quarterback struggled against a fiercer than anticipated Raiders pass rush. The first half of the game he did not seem to be on form. However, the last three drive of the game the Chargers offense came alive. They will have to be alive for all 60 minutes against a very good Baltimore team. If the Chargers want to be considered an elite team on the field, and just not on paper, they will have to play above the competition from the first kick off.

    The passing game is the Chargers strength currently, I believe it is safe to say that the Chargers are a passing team now. They can use the pass to set up the run. But they face a Ravens team that has learned how to pass the ball as well. Joe Flacco left the first game ranked 5th in the league in passing with 307 yard passing, 3 touch downs and an interception. This gave him a very respectable passer rating of 95.8. Rivers as mentioned also found his grove late in the game, passing for 252 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That gives him a passers rating of 84.5.

    That said, statistically the Ravens look better on defending the pass, in which they rank 9th, while the Chargers rank 16th. However head to head I believe the Chargers have the better pass defense. Though they gave up a long touchdown pass to the Raiders on a blown coverage, they held their ground repeatedly against the Raiders passing attack. It can also be noted that the Ravens faced a very young Chiefs team that is in transition to a new offensive and defensive scheme.

    Week one is not the measuring we should be using to compare the teams. However, this is the NFL and the Chargers can ill afford to stumble out of the gate and have yet another slow starting season.

    Head to head, the game will be won or lost in the trenches. The Chargers play on the lines against the Raiders was shaky to say the least. The second half both of the lines played better, but they looked like they were out physicalled against the Raiders. The Chargers will have to put pressure on young Flacco, they will need to swipe at his arms and legs any time they are close. They will have to get into his head, and make him feel pressure all the time. That will allow the secondary to play their best game.

    Likewise the Chargers will have to protect Rivers, that may require a jumbo package playing more often than before. Tight End Brandon Manumaleuna, and Full Back Jacob Hester may be in the back field more than usual to give Rivers a bit more time to survey the field.

    Hester himself had a good game last week blocking for the runners. He appeared to be much more comfortable in the role than he was last season. He will need to assist in keeping the Ravens, who know how to pressure a Quarterback from getting to Rivers. The Chargers may have to employ a short passing game, either using swing passes to the running backs or passes along the lines of scrimmage to make the Ravens back off from stacking the box.

    However you stack it, this will not be an easy game for either team. The Chargers will have to play much better than they did last week to pull off a victory. The homer in me says they can do it, and calls for a 24, 17 score. The pessimist in me is not quite as sure. I will still call for a Charger victory, citing the energy boost of opening up at home, and the roar of the crowd.

    <strong>Chargers 20, Ravens 14.</strong>

    Rushing Yards/game Chargers: 77 (21st); Ravens: 198 (2nd)
    Pass Yards /game Chargers: 240 (13th); Ravens: 303 (5th)
    Total Yards /game Chargers: 317 (14th); Ravens: 501 (2nd)

    Rushing Yards /game Chargers: 148 (25th); Ravens: 29 (2nd)
    Pass Yards /game Chargers: 218 (16th); Ravens: 159 (7th)
    Total Yards /game Chargers: 366 (25th); Ravens: 188 (3rd)

    Opening line San Diego -3.5

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