While I understand the home-field advantage given to the Ravens in this one, they’ll be without their starting left tackle and one of their starting wideouts. I like those injuries to push things in the Chargers’ favor as the Ravens are already pretty banged up apart from those two latest ailments.
But nonetheless, this game is going to be one of the best on Sunday’s slate and I expect plenty of eyes to be on the Bolts as they attempt to get to 5-1 before their much-deserved bye week.
As always, Matthew, Garrett, and I took turns predicting how this game would shake out along with our final score predictions.
Let’s get into it!
Michael Peterson: Can the Chargers just get a break from playing these teams with good rushing attacks? The Cowboys were a tough draw in week two, the the Chiefs almost pulled that one out behind the running of CEH, and then the Browns did what they did with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. So after getting severely tested in three of the season’s first five weeks, the final “boss” of the team’s pre-bye schedule is none other than Lamar Jackson and the Raven’s league-leading offense.
No one will ever be able to say the Chargers didn’t earn their success, that’s for sure.
I’m worried about this game the same way I was prior to the Browns game. The opponent’s game plan is the exact thing the Chargers don’t want to face. Add in the fact that the quarterback is the focal point of their run game and it adds an even thicker layer of difficulty to their defensive plan. Without the likes of athletic linebackers Kenneth Murray Jr. and Drue Tranquill available, the Bolts will have to rely on Kyzir White and rookie Nick Niemann to help spy the elusive Lamar Jackson.
The apparent breakout of third-year wideout Hollywood Brown could also pose a threat to a secondary who may be without Nasir Adderley. We’ll see if Derwin James will be asked to play deep all that often but you’d think that’d be detrimental to the plan of containing Jackson and putting a cover on start tight end Mark Andrews.
In the end, I think this one leans closer to another shootout. The Ravens will make their share of big plays while the Chargers should be able to take advantage of the Ravens’ 29th-ranked pass defense. The magic of this team will falter at some point, but I don’t think that time is this week. I’ve got the Chargers winning 34-31 in Baltimore.
Matthew Stanley: The New Chargers TM* somehow battled through and pulled off a huge win against the Cleveland Browns in what was viewed by many as the game of the week. Going to Baltimore to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens has them set up for what should be another stellar matchup. The Ravens have a more well-rounded offense than the Browns on paper. The Browns came in with a relatively-average passing game but the league’s best run game. The Ravens, meanwhile, are excelling in both, spearheaded by Lamar Jackson. They lead the league in total yardage, averaging 440.6 yards per game behind the third-best rushing attack (148.8 yards per game) and the fourth-best passing attack (291.8 yards per game). This season, Jackson has been playing like the former MVP that he is. He has almost half of the Ravens’ rushing yards and is the fifth-leading passer in the NFL. This is going to be yet another big test for the Chargers defense, especially since the Bolts traditionally have problems dealing with mobile quarterbacks. Looking at this game, the part of me that has been a Charger fan and has followed the Chargers for so long is screaming that this is a game that’s going to leave me disappointed. Playing an early game on the other side of the country, a few key players are banged up, the Ravens do things well that the Chargers have problems with, etc etc etc. When I remind myself this isn’t the same Chargers team we are used too, I want to have hope, but then I see that the Chargers have things that are problems for the Ravens as well. Baltimore is tied for the 29th-ranked pass defense while the Bolts have the third-best passing offense. In the end, I think we are in for another shootout. I believe the Chargers win this game 42-34 and head into the bye at 5-1 while we all try to figure out how we are going to build a bunker in our back yards as this is surely a sign of the apocalypse.
Garrett Sisti: My gut tells me the Chargers are going to have another shootout but I believe its going to be a lower-scoring affair than the team had last week. With the Chargers on the road, I think it’s going to take Justin Herbert some time to get into a rhythm and a lot of that will be because the right side of the Chargers offensive line is going to be an issue for most of the game. Drue Tranquill looks like he will be out on Sunday which most likely means Brandon Staley will be running out the big nickel package with an extra defensive back to match Lamar Jackson’s speed. The same package that gave Jackson fits in the Wild Card game in 2019 won’t be as effective on Sunday. I think Jackson will get a few big plays with his feet and finishes with a rushing touchdown and tight end Mark Andrews will have another big day but it won’t be enough to knock off the Chargers who finish strong in the fourth quarter. 30-24 Chargers.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.