Baltimore faces the always daunting west coast trip this Sunday as they take on the Chargers. This San Diego team blew out the Ravens last year, and seemingly always has their number. For whatever reason, no matter how the Chargers are playing, Baltimore can’t seem to figure them out. Hopefully things are different this time around.
The Chargers are coming off quite a poor stretch. They have lost two straight and 4 of their last 5 to fall to 4-6 on the season. Another loss and they are probably assured to be watching the playoffs from home this year. They have played well against poor opponents, beating KC twice, Oakland, and Tennessee. However, they are 0-5 this year against teams that currently have a record of at least .500. That should give Baltimore a little confidence going into the game.
Of course, the offense is run through Philip Rivers. He hasn’t seemed like the same player he was for over a year now, as his struggles have dipped into this season. He is still a talented QB with the ability to light it up at any given moment, but those moments are becoming more spread apart. Part of that may be the loss of top WR Vincent Jackson. Robert Meachem has been a full out bust since he signed with San Diego this offseason, now surpassed by the athletic Danario Alexander. That will certainly be a name to watch this week, especially with the situation Baltimore has at corner. Antonio Gates has been a shell of himself as well as he once again has battled through injuries. He should be pretty healthy going into this one, so a major impact is always in the cards. The running game just hasn’t been there for the Chargers this year. It started when Ryan Mathews broke his collarbone before the season, and they just have yet to rebound. Look for a big passing attack from the opponent.
Defensively the Chargers have been pretty solid, but especially stout stopping the run. Rice has taken a much bigger role in recent weeks, but has also been ineffective for the most part. At the same time, Flacco has been miserable on the road all year, so it is really a coin toss in what Cameron is thinking this week in strategy. I would imagine he would like to get Joe going and finally get the monkey off his back about struggling on the road. He likely will not veer too far off his recent strategy, however, so Rice should still be very much in the fold.
Most signs point to Baltimore in this one, but you can never discount a San Diego team playing Baltimore. With this one on the west coast as well, the Ravens are in for a big challenge. Hopefully they aren’t shocked when the Chargers coming out firing.