The NFL has forced Ray Lewis to play without a helmet, but that hasn't slowed him down much. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Go ahead, read the title again. With their playoff hopes fading behind a sun-sized moon named Tim Tebow, the San Diego Chargers offense has predictably gotten creative and ballsy. I really hate how Norv Turner's playcalling is so good in the second half of the season after looking childish in the first half of the season....nevermind, that's a whole other post.
The December Chargers are here and playing some fantastic football, with the offense building leads that allow for the defense to take changes (and cover up its misgivings). In addition, San Diego hasn't been a terrible home team this season. They are currently 4-3 at home, with those 3 losses coming against 3 potential playoff teams in the Packers, Raiders and Broncos.
The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, are undefeated at home but struggle on the road. They are a paltry 3-3 when forced to travel, losing games to the Titans, Seahawks and Jaguars (on Monday Night Football). The Chargers are better than the Jags, probably better than Seattle and not too far off from being as good as Tennessee (in my humble opinion). With Baltimore having to travel cross-country, and again on a primetime stage, they could very easily drop this game to the Chargers.
The big story heading into the game is that Ray Lewis is returning from a toe injury that has sidelined him for a month (the Ravens went 4-0 during the games he's missed). He'll be fired up, with all eyes on him, but that doesn't mean the same as when Ray-Ray was fired up 5 or 10 years ago. He'll have a little bit of rust, and he might be able to be attacked as long as the offense is careful with how they do it.
The biggest story of this game should be turnovers. When the Ravens lose, it's because their offense turns the ball over too much (2+ turnovers in each loss this season) and their defense doesn't create any turnovers. The Chargers offense is firing on all cylinders right now, so they should be able to move the chains and score some points. If they can keep from fumbling the ball or throwing interceptions, and use whatever lead they get to take chances and force Joe Flacco (1+ interceptions in each loss) to throw some picks, they'll win this game and make a whole Chargers fanbase shake their head for a second consecutive season about opportunities missed this year.
Or, maybe, the Broncos will lose to the Patriots (who will work very hard to make Tim Tebow look like an accurate passer), the Raiders will lose to the Lions, and we'll see how far this crazy Norv Turner ride can take us one last time.