Chargers seek revenge on Ravens in AFC Wild Card Round

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The Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Chargers will meet again in a rematch of a very physical week 16 matchup that saw the Ravens win 22-10 in a game closer than the final score would suggest.  The Ravens were able to stifle Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense to just 198 total yards and three turnovers. While that game was in Los Angeles, this upcoming Wild Card matchup will be in Baltimore.

Baltimore comes into the playoffs following a 6-1 stretch by Lamar Jackson. Their playoff pushed is built on two things: their stout, disruptive defense and Jackson’s ability to make plays be it on the ground or through the air.

The Bolts will have their hands full on offense in trying to deal with the Ravens pass rush.  This will be a clash of one of the Chargers’ big weaknesses (pass protection) versus one of the Ravens’ strengths (pass rushing).  The Chargers are third worst in pass blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus, having given up 26 sacks and 36 QB hits on the season.  The offensive line will need to be able to give Rivers time in the pocket so that plays can develop, a luxury he wasn’t afforded in their first game a fortnight ago.

One thing that will help the Offensive line this time around will be a much healthier Melvin Gordon.  In Week 15, the Pro Bowl running back was playing in his first game back from an MCL sprain that had shelved him for three weeks weeks.  Gordon should be much more effective this time around and his ability to run the ball effectively and be able to catch the ball out of the backfield should provide some relief for Rivers.

Jackson and his ability to push past the nerves of being the youngest player to ever start an NFL playoff game will be key to the Ravens success. The rookie signal caller’s ability to run the ball has put pressure on opposing defenses to react to Jackson rather than dictating the play. The threat of Jackson’s has also allowed running back Gus Edwards to find running lanes, allowing the young running back to average 5.5 yards a carry.

The Chargers have a terrific defense and being able to see the Ravens odd offensive style twice should allow the Chargers to be slightly more effective at corralling the Baltimore offense this time around.

Much like their week 16 matchup, this will be an ugly, physical football game between two excellent defenses. Philip Rivers’ experience will likely be the deciding factor in what is likely to be a low scoring game.

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based in Frederick, MD, USA. Multi-sport correspondent for Prost International and Prost Amerika focusing mainly on Soccer/Football and American Football

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