Ravens vs. Chargers Preview

December 17, 2011 | Michael Schwartz

The Ravens control their own fate. If they win out, they have the number one seed and home field throughout. They have a tough task this week in the San Diego Chargers who are starting to click on the offense. Phillip Rivers is not having his best year, but he has started to play a lot better this past week. Running backs Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews are a good combination in the back field because Tolbert is powerful and Matthews is agile. Tolbert is great on the goal line and Matthews can break a long run at any time. Antonio Gates had two touchdowns last week against the Bills and the Ravens have had trouble covering him in years past.

The Chargers defense led by Takeo Spikes and Eric Weddle have also gotten better in the last few weeks. Weddle has been an interception machine this year and Takeo Spikes has been the veteran leader that they have always needed. The Chargers have to stop Ray Rice and that is no easy task, because he is the NFL leader in yards from scrimmage. He is great out of the backfield and can break through arm tackles.

The Ravens offense will have to use Rice if they want to win this game. They will not win a shootout against the Chargers. Torrey Smith is still inconsistent; he drops a lot of passes. Anquan Boldin usually catches everything, but he has dropped a lot of passes of late. Lee Evans and Joe Flacco are still trying to find timing with each other. The offensive line has played well the last few games. They are starting to mesh with Grubbs back at guard.

The Ravens defense is one of the best in the NFL. They lead the NFL in sacks and are third in points per game. They have a top five run defense and their pass defense is improving each week. Ray Lewis has not played in the last four weeks with turf toe, but he is supposed to be back this week. He is the heart and soul of the Ravens defense but they are playing well without him.

Prediction: 30- 28 Chargers