Playoff implications abound in Week 16 as the Baltimore Ravens (8-6), who currently occupy the second Wild Card berth in the AFC, head to the to Stubhub Center (December 22, 2018 at 8:20pm EST) to take on the Los Angeles Chargers (11-3), who own the first Wild Card spot and are just a head-to-head tiebreaker behind the Chiefs for top spot in the AFC. The Chargers opened as 4.5-point favorites.
The Ravens’ defense has been a force this year. Not only are they badgering signal-callers, surrendering only 202.6 passing yards per game (3rd), but have also halted opposing rushing attacks, allowing just 87.6 rushing yards per game (3rd).
The minimal yards Baltimore is surrendering (1st in total defense) is complemented by the 18.1 points they allow per game, ranking 1st in scoring defense. This is not a defense you want to see often.
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) December 17, 2018
The offense isn’t on the same level as the D, but with the speedy Lamar Jackson under center, the Baltimore ground game has been a force. In just five starts, Jackson has become the team’s leading rusher with 566 yards on the ground, adding three touchdowns.
The Ravens are 4-1 since he took over, averaging 25.6 PPG (albeit against some very suspect defenses: Cincinnati, Oakland, Atlanta, KC, and Tampa Bay).
Ravens vs Chargers Statistical Comparison
|24.4 (13th)||PPG||28.2 (4th)|
|369.6 (11th)||YPG||392.0 (6th)|
|141.9 (2nd)||Rushing YPG||121.9 11th)|
|227.8 (20th)||Passing YPG||270.1 (8th)|
|18.1 (T1st)||PPG Allowed||21.3 (9th)|
|290.2 (1st)||YPG Allowed||329.1 (8th)|
|87.6 (3rd)||Rushing YPG Allowed||103.7 (9th)|
|202.6 (3rd)||Passing YPG Allowed||225.4 (8th)|
|-7 (25th)||Turnover Differential||+3 (T12th)|
Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson will be facing the toughest defense he’s seen this year when he takes the field in LA. The Chargers rank 8th against the pass, surrendering just 225.4 passing yards per game, and 9th versus the run, giving up 103.7 rushing yards per game.
They are a balanced unit that has been trending up ever since the return of Joey Bosa, who’s racked up 4.0 sacks in just five games.
Joey Bosa has played in five games this season, so here’s what his stats would look like in a 16-game stretch:
Tackles for loss: 13
QB Hits: 22
— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) December 18, 2018
That means the Baltimore defense will need to keep playing at the high level it’s showed so far, especially facing a potent and balanced Charger offense. Philip Rivers (112.4 passer rating) has played at an MVP level ever since Week 1, while the return of Melvin Gordon (802 rushing yards) to the backfield will give head coach Anthony Lynn a few different options for attacking the Baltimore D.
— LA Chargers Talk (@Chargers_TT) December 18, 2018
These teams last met in Nov. 2015 when the Ravens knocked off the Chargers 29-26 in Baltimore. The Chargers narrowly got the cover as 3.5-point road underdogs. It was their third cover in the last four against Baltimore.