Week 8 Preview: Chargers at Ravens

The Sports Xchange

October 29, 2015 at 10:31 am.

Oct 26, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Frustrated and desperate only scratch the surface of explaining the mindset of both teams. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Chargers (2-5) at Baltimore Ravens (1-6)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl

*Keys to the game: That Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco have combined for three victories seven games into their respective seasons speaks to the frustration both veterans are experiencing.

Rivers leads the NFL with 2,452 passing yards – 398 more than Tom Brady, his next closest challenger. But a lot of that is bloated by desperation, playing from behind while saddled with a ground game contributing a paltry 3.7 yards per carry. Bank on Rivers putting up another boatload of impressive stats on Sunday against a defense allowing 283.0 passing yards per game and handing out identification cards on game day. The Chargers are still awaiting consistent carries and production from rookie RB Melvin Gordon and will find themselves tied up in shootouts until they get it.

The Ravens, meanwhile, continue to be in every game – they haven’t lost by more than one score yet. But the issues on defense have been compounded by a minus-seven turnover margin, dropped passes and a general lack of anyone outside of Steve Smith to make big plays in the passing game. RB Justin Forsett has been limited by a nagging ankle injury but he could be the x-factor. San Diego allows 5.3 yards per carry and if Flacco isn’t backpedaling on third-and-long, he has plenty of weapons with which to play catch.

*Matchup to watch – Chargers WR Keenan Allen v. Ravens CB Jimmy Smith: Allen has an NFL-record 62 catches through seven games and has emerged as one of the league’s better route-runners. Smith was touted as one of the NFL’s top cover corners entering the season, but has routinely struggled along with the rest of Baltimore’s secondary.

*Player spotlight – Chargers TE Ladarius Green: Antonio Gates is likely to miss his second straight game with a sore knee. Green, a pseudo wide receiver at 6-6, 240 pounds, already has a career-high 26 catches for 304 yards and four touchdowns in six games this season, all starts.

*Fast facts: S Eric Weddle (groin) and LB Manti Te’o (ankle) lead the Chargers with 40 tackles each, but both are in danger of missing the game. … The Ravens have had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes in every loss this season. Their losses have come by a combined 28 points.


Frustrated and desperate only scratch the surface of explaining the mindset of both teams. The Ravens have at least been in every game and have the advantage of being at home rather than traveling cross-country with their season already all but over.

*Our pick: Ravens 30-27.