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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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They don’t deserve to be in the postseason and certainly don’t look like a playoff team.

The eyeball test warrants a failing grade.

Too little consistency and too many bad losses will cost them at the end of the season.

They’re simply not good enough.

The following statements have been used over and over in describing the Ravens as they’ve lost four of their last five games to fall to 4-6 on the season and 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati in the AFC North.

And those same descriptions can and have been used to describe the seven other teams currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, “plodding” might be a better term to use in describing the race for the No. 6 seed in the conference.

Unless commissioner Roger Goodell elects to eliminate the final spot, a team with an underwhelming résumé through Week 11 will find itself playing in January as the final seed in the single-elimination tournament. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins hold the slight edge at the moment over the rest of the pack at 5-5, but their flaws are as apparent as any of the six 4-6 teams chasing them.

“What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor-thin margin it is in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said in describing the current playoff picture. “That’s what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a home-field advantage or something like that. And that’s something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven’t done the things we needed to do to be in that position.”

The frustration is understandable after a 4-6 start, but deeming the Ravens undeserving of the playoffs and writing them off are subjective statements that would be true in most seasons but are made in isolation from the rest of the field through Week 11. While I’m unwilling to say they’re definitively better than any of the other seven teams fighting for the final spot, you won’t convince me that any of those competitors are superior to the Ravens, either.

The truth is the AFC is mired in mediocrity once you look beyond Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, making it difficult to predict which team — if any — will make a strong run over the final six weeks to sneak in. At this point, 10-6 would virtually guarantee the final playoff spot, but 9-7 has a good shot of being the season-ending target.

As mediocre as the entire field of 5-5 and 4-6 teams has looked, even an 8-8 record — or, gasp, 7-9? — with a favorable tie-breaker arsenal could conceivably be awarded with the No. 6 seed. Whether you elect to embrace that possibility with any level of enthusiasm is your choice.

With a head-to-head tie-breaking win over Miami and a meeting with the Jets this Sunday, the Ravens have an opportunity to gain the upper hand against the two teams they’re currently chasing in the wild-card race. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over the rest of the field, but their chances appear no worse than any other team — even if you must hold your nose while saying that.

“We are right there. We can do it, and we’re good enough to do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that’s on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it’s up to us to prove it, and we’ve got to go prove it by winning these games.”

Whether the Ravens can do it remains to be seen, but three straight games at home starting Sunday provides a crucial opportunity to stack wins and ease the pain from their current 1-5 record on the road.

Here’s a look at the rest of the race for the AFC’s No. 6 seed in the current order in which teams stand based on tie-breaking procedures, which I’ll forgo including beyond conference records for now:

6. NEW YORK (5-5)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Case for: Only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, league’s top-ranked run defense
Case against: Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, minus-85 point differential (worst among the eight contenders for No. 6 seed)

7. MIAMI (5-5)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Carolina, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Case for: One of the NFL’s better pass rushes, potential of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Case against: 31st in total offense, fallout from the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga

8. OAKLAND (4-6)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, at New York Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver
Case for: Fourth-ranked run offense, sixth-ranked run defense
Case against: Unrest at quarterback position, 25th-ranked pass defense

9. TENNESSEE (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Oakland, at Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Case for: Seventh-ranked pass defense, fifth in conference in takeaways
Case against: Season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker, four remaining road games

10. PITTSBURGH (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Cleveland, at Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Case for: One game remaining against teams currently above .500, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Case against: 30th-ranked rush offense, 26th in run defense

11. BALTIMORE (4-6)
Conference record: 4-4
Remaining schedule: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati
Case for: Expected return of Dennis Pitta, four remaining home games
Case against: 31st in yards per carry and 30th in total offense, three games remaining against teams currently above .500

12. CLEVELAND (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, at New England, Chicago, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh
Case for: Fifth in total defense, play-making ability of wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron
Case against: 26th-ranked rush offense, 10th in AFC in takeaways

13. SAN DIEGO (4-6)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Case for: Fourth-ranked passing offense, plus-4 point differential (best among the eight No.6 seed contenders)
Case against: 27th in pass defense, four games remaining against teams currently above .500

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 12

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 12

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Below are our Tuesday Top 7 Ravens players in the 16-13 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 12. We’ll track our rankings throughout the 2012 season using the following point system:

No. 1 – 7 points
No. 2 – 6 points
No. 3 – 5 points
No. 4 – 4 points
No. 5 – 3 points
No. 6 – 2 points
No. 7 – 1 point

To hear the full explanation for the respective lists, click HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 …

7) Justin Tucker
Tucker

6) Brendon Ayanbadejo
BA

5) Corey Graham
Graham

4) Arthur Jones
Jones

3) Joe Flacco
Flacco

2) Torrey Smith
Smith

1) Ray Rice
Rice

Drew Forrester’s Top 7 …

7) Brendon Ayanbadejo
BA

6) Anquan Boldin
Boldin

5) Arthur Jones
Jones

4) Justin Tucker
Tucker

3) Joe Flacco
Flacco

2) Torrey Smith
Smith

1) Ray Rice
Rice

SEASON TO DATE:
Luke Jones:
1. Ray Rice (44 points)
2. Joe Flacco (40 points)
3. Torrey Smith (26 points)
4. Justin Tucker (20 points)
5. Anquan Boldin (19 points)
6. Jacoby Jones (18 points)
7. Dennis Pitta (17 points)
8. Paul Kruger (15 points)
9. Cary Williams (12 points)
9. Dannell Ellerbe (12 points)
11. Corey Graham (9 points)
12. Bernard Pollard (8 points)
13. Terrell Suggs (7 points)
14. Sam Koch (5 points)
14. Lardarius Webb (5 points)
14. Haloti Ngata (5 points)
17. Arthur Jones (5 points)
18. Michael Oher (4 points)
18. Albert McClellan (4 points)
18. Tandon Doss (4 points)
21. Ramon Harewood (3 points)
21. Vonta Leach (3 points)
23. Kelechi Osemele (2 points)
24. Courtney Upshaw (2 points)
24. Marshal Yanda (2 points)
24. Bernard Pierce (2 points)
24. James Ihedigbo (2 points)
24. Brendon Ayanbadejo (2 points)
29. Ed Reed (1 point)
29. Ray Lewis (1 point)
29. DeAngelo Tyson (1 point)

Drew Forrester:
1. Joe Flacco (43 points)
2. Ray Rice (33 points)
3. Torrey Smith (26 points)
4. Justin Tucker (25 points)
5. Anquan Boldin (15 points)
6. Bernard Pollard (14 points)
6. Dennis Pitta (14 points)
8. Dannell Ellerbe (13 points)
8. Cary Williams (13 points)
10. Michael Oher (12 points)
12. Lardarius Webb (11 points)
12. Jacoby Jones (11 points)
13. Sam Koch (10 points)
14. Terrell Suggs (7 points)
14. Corey Graham (7 points)
14. Ed Reed (7 points)
14. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett (7 points)
18. Paul Kruger (6 points)
18. Kelechi Osemele (6 points)
18. Houston post-game pilot (6 points)
21. Ramon Harewood (5 points)
22. Ray Lewis (4 points)
23. Courtney Upshaw (3 points)
23. Arthur Jones (3 points)
25. Vonta Leach (1 point)
25. Morgan Cox (1 point)
25. Tandon Doss (1 point)
25. Bernard Pierece (1 point)
25. Marshal Yanda (1 point)
25. James Ihedigbo (1 point)
25. Brendon Ayanbadejo (1 point)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Chargers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Chargers

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 16-13 OT win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Dennis Pitta 11 yard completion from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 4 (Overtime)

4. Cary Williams breaks up Philip Rivers pass intended for Danario Alexander on 3rd & 4 (Overtime)

3. Brendon Ayanbadejo breaks up Philip Rivers pass intended for Danario Alexander on 3rd & 3 (Overtime)

2. Torrey Smith 31 yard completion from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 10 (Overtime)

1. Ray Rice 29 yard completion from Joe Flacco on 4th & 29 (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Sizing up The Miracle at The Murph

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Sizing up The Miracle at The Murph

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

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Our Ravens/Chargers “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Chargers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 16-13 win over San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Brendon Ayanbadejo

4. Cary Williams

3. Dennis Pitta

2. Justin Tucker

1. Ray Rice (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ray Rice has a name for his miracle 4th & 29 grab

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Ray Rice has a name for his miracle 4th & 29 grab

Posted on 25 November 2012 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Chargers: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Chargers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Looking to make last season’s ugly defeat in San Diego a distant memory, the Ravens take on the Chargers for the ninth time in franchise history.

The teams are tied 4-4 in the all-time series as Baltimore tries to improve to 3-4 in games played at Qualcomm Stadium. Sunday marks the Ravens’ third visit to San Diego in four years.

Despite being listed as questionable and practicing all week on a limited basis, defensive end Pernell McPhee is inactive for the fourth straight game and hasn’t played since before the Week 8 bye. His last action came in Baltimore’s 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans on Oct. 21.

Veteran cornerback Chris Johnson joined second-year defensive back Jimmy Smith on the inactive list, leaving the Ravens thin in the secondary. As a result, rookie Asa Jackson is active for the first time this season.

Guard Bobbie Williams is also inactive for the second straight week, eliminating any small doubt over who would start at left guard. Second-year offensive lineman Jah Reid will make his second straight start at the position. Williams wasn’t listed on this week’s injury report.

As expected, tight end Dennis Pitta is active after he passed his baseline neurological test on Friday, which cleared him for contact after suffering a concussion in Pittsburgh last Sunday.

For San Diego, starting left guard Tyronne Green is inactive as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. He will be replaced by Rex Hadnot in the starting lineup.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys and black pants while San Diego wears its popular powder blue jerseys.

Here are the inactive lists for Sunday …

BALTIMORE
CB Jimmy Smith
CB Chris Johnson
G Bobbie Williams
OL Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DE Pernell McPhee
DT Bryan Hall

SAN DIEGO
WR Eddie Royal
LB Larry English
LB Jonas Mouton
TE Dante Rosario
S Brandon Taylor
WR Curtis Brinkley
G Tyronne Green

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Nestor Aparicio brings live updates and analysis from Qualcomm Stadium.

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Ravens-Chargers: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Chargers: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 24 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Still chasing the Houston Texans for the top seed in the AFC, the Ravens travel to San Diego for the third time in four years to take on the struggling Chargers.

Here’s what to expect as Baltimore tries to improve to 5-4 all-time against the Chargers and avenge a 34-14 beating suffered last December …

1. The Baltimore defense will force a turnover against quarterback Philip Rivers to set up a touchdown. Pressuring Rivers will be critical as the San Diego offensive line has been porous all season, allowing 26 sacks and contributing to his league-leading 14 interceptions entering Week 12. I’m not sure the Ravens will be able to get to him consistently, but they’ll bait Rivers into throwing a pick to set up the offense on a short field. After dealing with the drama of initially being handed a one-game suspension before winning his appeal, safety Ed Reed will come to play on Sunday and is the likeliest candidate to pull off a theft in what will be a pass-happy day for Rivers and the Chargers.

2. Neither running game will be a major factor at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Chargers have struggled to run the ball and will try to exploit an injury-plagued secondary with their passing game. The Ravens haven’t run the ball effectively in recent weeks and will be facing the league’s third-ranked rush defense. Favorable conditions and San Diego’s 19th-ranked pass defense will coax the Ravens into putting the game in the hands of quarterback Joe Flacco as the running game will solely be used to keep the Chargers honest. Neither Ryan Mathews nor Ray Rice will sniff the 100-yard rushing mark in this one.

3. Tall receiving target Malcom Floyd will give the Ravens’ depleted secondary fits for the second year in a row. The recent emergence of 6-foot-5 target Danario Alexander on the other side gives Rivers two gigantic targets on the outside to go along with tight end Antonio Gates and has helped offset the departure of Vincent Jackson and the disappointing production from free-agent bust Robert Meachem. The absence of Jimmy Smith and newly-signed veteran Chris Johnson will leave smaller corners in Corey Graham and Chykie Brown on the field in the nickel package while a taller Cary Williams doesn’t play with much of a physical presence anyway. Floyd burned the Ravens last year to the tune of five catches, 96 yards, and a touchdown. Floyd will post similar numbers on Sunday and will catch a touchdown pass against Baltimore for the second year in a row.

4. Torrey Smith will bounce back from a rough outing last week to catch a touchdown. Pittsburgh was able to make Smith a non-factor as he was held to only one catch for seven yards after he had caught three touchdown passes in the two previous games. The Ravens will go with three-wide sets early in the game to make Jacoby Jones’ presence felt and detract some safety attention from Smith. The second-year wide receiver may not catch a long bomb for a score, but he’ll show off his improved route-running ability against the Chargers and utilize his speed to score his eighth touchdown of the season in a bounce-back performance.

5. The Ravens are clearly the better team, but a Pittsburgh hangover, an inconsistent offense, and an unfavorable matchup in the passing game result in a 24-20 loss to the Chargers. A physical and emotionally-draining game with Pittsburgh always leaves both teams weary the following week as the Ravens dropped both games last season immediately following wins over the Steelers. Until they prove otherwise away from M&T Bank Stadium, Flacco and the Baltimore offense cannot be trusted to score enough points to overcome a defense that’s depleted in the secondary and matching up with big receiving targets all over the field. There won’t be much room in the running game, meaning Flacco will need to win this one for the Ravens. The offense won’t be as brutally bad as it was in Pittsburgh, but it won’t be able to save the day by fending off an upset in a difficult West Coast trip.

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Pitta, Cody probable; McPhee questionable for San Diego game

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Pitta, Cody probable; McPhee questionable for San Diego game

Posted on 23 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Finishing a week of practice before traveling to San Diego for Sunday’s game against the Chargers, the Ravens turned in a favorable final injury report.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis all week while veteran cornerback Chris Johnson was labeled as doubtful after missing practice for the third straight day with a hamstring injury.

Listed as probable, Dennis Pitta is expected to play against the Chargers after he passed a baseline neurological test on Friday, which cleared him for contact. The third-year tight end practiced on a limited basis all week.

Coach John Harbaugh was encouraged to see McPhee, Pitta, and nose tackle Terrence Cody practice all week but would not offer much on their respective statuses for Sunday prior to the release of Friday’s injury report.

“I feel confident that they have a chance to play,” Harbaugh said.

Pitta left in the first quarter of last Sunday’s game against the Steelers after sustaining a big hit from the combination of linebacker Lawrence Timmons and safety Ryan Clark. He also temporarily left the game the week before after taking another hit against the Oakland Raiders before returning to action later that day.

“It’s nothing that you can worry about, because it’s part of the risk of playing football,” Pitta said. “I’ve taken a couple big hits the last couple weeks and had they been worse, I might be a little bit more concerned about it. I felt good all week and really have no issues.”

McPhee hasn’t played since the Ravens’ 43-13 loss in Houston in Week 7 as he’s rested knee and thigh injuries. The second-year defensive end practiced two days on a limited basis last week, but Harbaugh said earlier this week it was never realistic for McPhee to play in Pittsburgh.

The defensive lineman declared himself close to 100 percent last week before missing his third straight game.

“I feel like I could go out and compete, but it’s all [Harbaugh's] decision,” McPhee said. “He’s going to make the best decision. He knows where I’m at and he knows the right decision to make. I feel better about my chances.”

Meanwhile, the Chargers have ruled out linebacker Larry English, wide receiver Eddie Royal, and former Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither for Sunday’s game.

Hampered by a groin injury that’s limited him to just four games this season, Gaither was placed on injured reserve on Friday.

Former Ravens defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin was listed as questionable with a knee injury.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DOUBTFUL: CB Chris Johnson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)
PROBABLE: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (shoulder), NT Terrence Cody (arm), TE Ed Dickson (neck), LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe/finger), S James Ihedigbo (neck), WR/RS Jacoby Jones (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), TE Dennis Pitta (head), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), LB Terrell Suggs (shoulder/ankle), OLB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

SAN DIEGO
OUT: LB Larry English (calf), T Jared Gaither (groin)*, WR Eddie Royal (hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: G Tyronne Green (hamstring), TE Dante Rosario (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee)
PROBABLE: S Atari Bigby (shoulder), P Mike Scifres (right ankle), G Louis Vasquez (ankle)

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Ravens hope lightning doesn’t strike twice in San Diego

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Ravens hope lightning doesn’t strike twice in San Diego

Posted on 23 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It didn’t happen in the blink of an eye, but there was no sugarcoating the Ravens’ humbling 34-14 defeat to quarterback Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers last December.

The prime-time thrashing not only handed Baltimore its fourth and final loss of the regular season, but it stripped the Ravens of their grip on the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They won their final two games of the regular season but finished a game behind New England, which resulted in the Ravens traveling to Gillette Stadium for the AFC Championship instead of the Patriots potentially coming to Baltimore for a championship showdown.

We know what happened after that, and you can’t help but wonder how events might have played out differently had the Ravens not been on the losing end of that contest against Rivers and the erratic Chargers, who enter Sunday’s meeting with a 4-6 record and their playoff hopes on life support.

“Last year, it wasn’t that pleasant,” linebacker Terrel Suggs said. “Before I could look up, it was 31-7. It was like raining touchdowns out there. He’s a good quarterback. We definitely can’t make it a seven-on-seven contest.”

The Chargers have looked just plain bad more than erratic this season as Rivers has thrown a league-high 14 interceptions to go along with 2,461 yards and 17 touchdowns. San Diego has two wins since Week 2 — both coming against the doormat Kansas City Chiefs — but a victory over the Ravens could be viewed as a long-shot to change the season for Norv Turner, who appears on his way out as Chargers coach.

The Ravens have been down this road before in preparing for San Diego. Their margin for error is slim as they continue to chase the 10-1 Houston Texans for the AFC’s top spot while trying to hold off New England and Denver, who both trail Baltimore by one game in the loss column of the conference standings.

Unlike last season’s San Diego game when the Ravens’ path to the No. 1 seed was completely in their hands, Baltimore still needs help, but a loss on Sunday would be a major blow to their hopes for home-field advantage throughout January. A measure of revenge might be healthy for the Ravens’ psyche as well as they travel to San Diego for the third time in the last four seasons.

“[I am] thankful for another opportunity to go against Philip after he sliced us and diced us last year,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It will be a big challenge. He’s a great player. Between the quarterback and their receivers, they’re maybe the most talented passing group in the league.”

That talent hasn’t translated to success on the field as the Chargers lost former No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency this past March and currently rank 23rd in total offense, 17th in passing offense, and 16th in points per game.

Despite his struggles with taking care of the football this season, Rivers’ talents aren’t lost on the Ravens as he still has two dangerous targets in tight end Antonio Gates and tall wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who burned the Baltimore defense to the tune of five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown last season. This, coupled with a secondary depleted by injuries, has Harbaugh and the Ravens looking beyond the underwhelming statistics.

“You look at what they are capable of accomplishing,” Harbaugh said. “For the most part, it has been turnovers on offense for them. I’m sure they feel if they can clean that up, they can play really well. We’ve got to take that into account.”

Even if the Baltimore defense can build upon its impressive performance in Pittsburgh and hold Rivers and the San Diego offense in check, the great equalizer on Sunday might be the Chargers defense, which entered Week 12 ranked eighth in yards allowed and tied for 13th in points surrendered. Managing to win consecutive road games for the first time since 2010, the Ravens offense certainly didn’t do much at Heinz Field last week as they continued their chronic struggles away from M&T Bank Stadium.

In five road contests this season, the Ravens are only averaging 16.6 points per game as quarterback Joe Flacco has completed only 54.2 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and four interceptions away from M&T Bank Stadium. In the San Diego secondary, Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle provides a serious challenge as the versatile defensive back will sometimes play close to the line of scrimmage in run support while other times dropping deep into coverage, making him difficult to find at times.

Perhaps a bigger hurdle than the Chargers for the Ravens on Sunday could be themselves after an emotionally-draining and physical win over their bitter rivals last Sunday night. Baltimore could be vulnerable to a lackluster showing after following both wins against Pittsburgh last season with ugly road defeats to inferior opponents (Tennessee and Seattle).

The Ravens have practiced later in the afternoon all week — after doing research on sleep cycles and energy cycles, according to Harbaugh — and traveled to San Diego on Friday to adjust to the change in time zone and climate. With so much to lose in the event of another defeat to the Chargers, the Ravens hope the changes will be enough to return home with a victory late Sunday night.

“I always appreciate the Friday trips, but you’ve got to get out there and understand it’s a business trip,” running back Ray Rice said. “It’s not out there for leisure. You’ve got to try to do that out there with a different time change. But we do a pretty good job of adjusting. Now we’ve got to go ahead and take it to the field and just adjust a little faster.”

The Ravens will need to if they want to avoid another misstep in San Diego with so much to play for down the final stretch of the season.

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