Two teams no one wants to face will square off against one another on Sunday, January 6th as the Los Angeles Chargers visit M&T Stadium in Baltimore to face the Ravens in one of four wild card matchups to kick off the NFL playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 1:05pm.
Los Angeles Chargers
Only a stellar Chiefs season has Los Angeles playing on wild card weekend.
The Chargers have been consistently great all season, and are one of just two playoff teams that rank inside the top 10 of DVOA on both offense and defense this season (the Colts are the other).
Philip Rivers with his second 50+ TD of the day ?
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) October 21, 2018
Offensively, the Chargers rank an impressive sixth in the NFL in scoring, led by another outstanding season by veteran pivot Philip Rivers.
Like clockwork, Rivers threw for over 4,300 yards and 32 touchdowns – the 10th time in the last 11 seasons he’s cranked out a 4,000+, 25+ TD campaign.
— NFL France (@FirstDownFR) December 14, 2018
Defensively, the Chargers run defense is going to be tested against Baltimore’s top rated rushing attack. The Chargers allow just under 106 yards per game, which ranked ninth in the NFL this year.
Derwin James comes up big and makes sure Travis Kelce doesn't get the first down. Still amazes me how many teams passed on him. pic.twitter.com/21tAlXqMQk
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 14, 2018
LA is proud to boast their own super rookie in safety Derwin James, who helped lead a unit that was without stud linebacker Joey Bosa for nine games this year.
With Bosa back, the pass rush, which only ranked 19th with 38 sacks on the year, will be a more formidable weapon when Baltimore does decide to drop back and pass.
Joey Bosa threatens with speed + ½ man rush. He closes the distance quickly on Feiler. Once the OL punches, Bosa spins inside & tracks down Big Ben for the sack.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) December 5, 2018
In their previous meeting in Week 16, Los Angeles held Baltimore to around their league-leading average, allowing 159 yards rushing and no touchdowns.
— Fernando Ramirez (@RealFRamirez) November 4, 2018
Where they are weakest will be special teams, ranking 26th in DVOA. The Chargers’ kicking woes are now legendary and beyond-comedic sad. However, after shuffling through a dizzying array of kickers, they may have found themselves a great one in Mike Badgley.
Michael Badgley (@MikeBadgley15) finishes the 2018 regular season for @Chargers at 15-of-16 in FGA (93.8%) and 27-of-28 in XPA (96.4%). It should also be noted that Money Badger's only missed FGA was from 52 yards.#Chargers #ChargersStats #BoltUp #FightForLA #FightForEachOther pic.twitter.com/339TNnwXkw
— Brian Taylor ?⚡ (@OHLChampion2014) December 31, 2018
Still, Los Angeles will be holding its collective breath if it comes down to a field goal to win or tie the game.
Chargers vs Ravens Statistical Comparison
|12-4 (2nd AFC West)||Record||10-6 (1st AFC North)|
|26.8 (6th)||PPG||24.3 (13th)|
|372.6 (11th)||YPG||374.9 (9th)|
|117.1 (15th)||Rushing YPG||152.6 (2nd)|
|255.6 (10th)||Passing YPG||222.4 (22nd)|
|20.6 (8th)||PPG Allowed||17.9 (2nd)|
|333.7 (9th)||YPG Allowed||292.9 (1st)|
|105.8 (9th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||82.9 (4th)|
|227.9 (9th)||Passing YPG Allowed||210.0 (5th)|
|+1 (T-15th)||Turnover Differential||-3 (22nd)|
*Stats are from the 2018 NFL regular season
Baltimore’s surge to the AFC North crown and playoff berth was spearheaded by two key factors: inserting rookie Lamar Jackson in at starting quarterback for Joe Flacco, and their tried and true defense once again rising to the occasion.
Two years ago, Lamar Jackson became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever. Next weekend, Jackson will be the youngest starting QB to start a playoff game in NFL history. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/rUKJqYhK6F
— jacob calvin meyer (@jcalvinmeyer) December 31, 2018
With Jackson at the helm, Baltimore shifted styles to a heavy run option attack. To say he was electric would be an understatement.
LAMAR!@lj_era8's 2nd TD run of the game!
— NFL (@NFL) December 30, 2018
In the seven games he’s manned the pivot duties, the Ravens are 6-1, and gashing teams to the tune of 229.6 yards rushing per contest. This old-school, ball-control offense was also helped along by the super play of unheralded rookie Gus Edwards.
Gus Edwards TD! He was NOT having that late hit ? pic.twitter.com/kTnfLm5aqA
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) December 16, 2018
The ability to gain yards every time they rush the ball has also opened up the play action game, which was a factor when these two teams met in Week 16.
Lamar Jackson to Mark Andrews for a 68-yard TD!
— NFL News (@NFLFBGAMETIME) December 23, 2018
The Ravens were also able to force the Chargers into three turnovers, including two Rivers’ interceptions.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) December 23, 2018
Baltimore’s defense is legit: they rank in the top five of every major statistical category, including a league best 292.9 yards allowed per game, while allowing just 17.9 points per game (2nd). They have owned games at times this season.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2018
While special teams may be the Chargers’ Achilles heel, it may be the trump card for the Ravens, who have no problem trotting out kicker Justin Tucker in clutch situations – he’s one of the league’s all-time greats.
Chargers and Ravens Betting Trends
|Chargers Betting Trends||Ravens Betting Trends|
|LAC was 7-1 ATS on the road in 2018||BAL was 3-5 ATS at home in 2018|
|LAC was 4-1 SU as underdog in 2018||BAL was 7-4 SU as favorite in 2018|
|LAC was 4-1 ATS as road underdog in 2018||BAL was 3-5 ATS as home favorite in 2018|
|LAC was 9-4 SU in conference games in 2018||BAL was 8-4 SU in conference games in 2018|
|LAC is 5-6-1 ATS following a win in 2018||BAL is 5-4-0 ATS following a win in 2018|