The Baltimore Ravens hold their playoff hopes in their own hands. Regardless of what any other team in the hunt for the post season does, if the Ravens win out, they will secure the AFC North title as well as the #1 seed in the conference along with the home field advantage. That would give them a chance to play in front of the hometown fans for the first time in their previous three years of playoff experience under the leadership of had coach John Harbaugh and star offensive players QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice. All three have been together in this playoff run since 2008 and it's time for them to take than next step.
The San Diego Chargers are just one more obstacle in their path to their ultimate goal. While the Chargers are not a winning team, they were thought to be the easy choice to win the AFC West and have been laying as well as they have all season, with solid victories their past two games. The Ravens have not lost a game all season to a winning team, but have had their problems on the road, losing all three of their games this season to obviously inferior teams.
Luckily for Baltimore, but perhaps not for San Diego, the Chargers do not fit the bill of an obvious inferior team. This is a key playoff-type of game, as both teams have their own reasons why this game is crucial to their season. The Chargers are playing for their playoff lives and Snapdragon Stadium will be alive and loud hoping for a hometown win. The Ravens want to control their own fate and destiny with a trip to Indianapolis in February and a win today will keep them on their path and prove they deserve to be mentioned among the best in the NFL.
Looking at the game, there is no reason to believe that the Ravens are not the better team, and by far. Sure San Diego has a good QB, but one who leads the NFL in turnovers. They have two solid running backs, but they are going up against one of the top run defenses in the league. Their two wide receivers and tight end are all tall, big and quick, but their QB will need the to find them and the Ravens corners are bigger than most. With the expected loss of Lardarius Webb, the two starting cornerbacks for the Ravens will probably be Cary Williams and rookie Jimmy Smith, both over six feet tall, which should help in pass coverage.
The Chargers offensive line is full of holes and the Ravens lead the NFL in sacks. San Diego's two previous wins have been over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, certainly nothing to compare to what they will face this week in Baltimore.
Offensively, the Chargers defensive front seven is their weakness and the Ravens run game has been churning out yards in huge chunks. QB Joe Flacco has been on target the past four games, all wins, and if he gets time like he has lately, he will show the San Diego faithful why he is such an under-rated QB and perhaps why their own is as over-rated as any in the league.
Many people, even ravens fans are worried about this game and are even picking the chargers to "upset" the Ravens. If both teams play to their potential, the Ravens should win this game, and easily, as they are far and away the better team. In fact, the only team that will beat the Ravens on Sunday night are the Ravens themselves. If Baltimore does not beat themselves with turnovers, they should be able to outscore and hold off the pass-happy Rivers, creating and capitalizing off turnovers, run the ball down San Diego's throat and show the AFC West why football in the AFC North is so much more physical than what they are used to.