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Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers
4:15 ET @ Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Background:

The Ravens hit the road after their statistically impressive opening game versus the Chiefs. Joe Flacco and the offense aired it out for 307 yards on 43 passing attempts. In addition, Ray Rice ran for 108 yards himself and combined with the other running backs, and Joe Flacco, for 198 yards on the ground. They set a franchise record with 501 total offensive yards.

The defense held Jamaal Charles and Larry Johnson to 29 yards rushing and the entire Chiefs team to 188 yards.

However, the Chiefs are definitely not the Chargers and the Ravens are in for a way bigger challenge this week IN San Diego.

Thoughts from Ravens' Week 1: http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/444519

http://www.informativesports.com/Articles/NFL/2009/BAL.htm

The Chargers barely eked a win last week against the lowly Raiders as they needed a late touchdown score by Darren Sproles to finish the job. The Chargers only was able to come out of that game with 77 rushing yards against a defense that was ranked 31st against the run last season. What does 77 yards against the 31st ranked run defense translate into when you replace that 31st ranked defense to the 2nd ranked run defense? And to make this equation more fun, take out LaDanian Tomlinson who will be out of the game.

http://www.informativesports.com/Articles/NFL/2009/SD.htm

Key Match-Ups:

Philip Rivers vs. Ed Reed

With LDT out for the game on Sunday, the Chargers will have to depend on the passing game more. Sure, the Bolts still have Darren Sproles, but a passing game with Rivers vs. the Ravens weak pass defense seems like a better game plan.

Rivers will have to go head to head with Ed Reed who, right now, is the best safety in the NFL.

Last week against the very solid Raiders pass defense, Rivers passed for 252 yards, a score, and threw an interception while boasting a 84.5 passer rating.

For Ed Reed, last week was nothing spectacular either as he was relatively silent. He recorded five total sacks, 4 solo, and did not defend a pass.

The Ravens pass defense allowed Brodie Croyle to march down field many times in week 1 which allotted to 159 passing yards and the best game of Croyle's career.

Philip Rivers has a huge advantage over Croyle and as do his receivers. Ed Reed will need to control his DB's well to match Rivers if the Ravens want to win this game on the defensive side of the ball.

Vincent Jackson vs. Fabian Washington

Jackson has the huge advantage here as Washington is a rather weak defensive back. Last week against the best corner in the NFL, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jackson managed to still catch five passes for 56 yards. Nnamdi allowed Vincent to have a touchdown as well. Fabian Washington is no where near the level of Nnamdi, not even in the slightest terms. Washington allowed Dwayne Bowe four catches for 40 yards last Sunday and a touchdown as well.

Shawne Merriman vs. Michael Oher

Michael Oher did a nice job last week of shutting down Tyson Jackson. He did so good of a job that Tyson Jackson recorded 0 tackles, 0 assists, and 0 sacks. Talk about silencing.

Shawne Merriman had an okay first game last week against the Raiders has he recorded 5 tackles, 3 of which were solo.

Oher may have his hands full with Merriman this week as he is a more experience and better overall player than Tyson Jackson. Oher and the rest of the line gave Flacco plenty of time to pass last game. Flacco was able to stand in the pocket on some plays for longer than Michael Vick stayed in prison.

Players to Watch:

Joe Flacco - QB - Baltimore Ravens:

They gave the ball to Flacco to throw 43 times last week, a career NFL high. He did well passing for over 300 yards and a few scores on a weak Kansas City defense. It will be interesting to see what the offensive does this week. Do they stick with the passing game plan or put the ball back on the ground which they have had past success doing?

If they do decide to air it out, will Flacco be able to succeed against a better pass defense? Quentin Jammar, Antonio Cromartie, and Eric Weddle are a way better combination than what Flacco faced against Kansas City.

Darren Sproles - RB - San Diego Chargers:

Sproles may have a Michael Turner effect inside of him. He may be finally getting his chance outside of playing behind LDT.

If he is able to run wild on this Ravens defense, look for the Chargers to depend on him more often down the road and maybe even making LDT expendable.

However, for the game this Sunday, if Sproles is able to have a large game, the Chargers have it in the bag. The Ravens win this game, and all their others by stopping the run.

Prediction:

The Ravens will definitely have a harder matchup this week compared to last. The Chargers have a solid run game and an okay passing game. They may have to depend on the passing a little too much though. Going across the middle to Antonio Gates and over the top to Vincent Jackson will get old fast as the Ravens sniff it out.

For the Ravens offense, they go back to running the ball with success. Ray Rice rumbles for 80 yards while McGahee does the same.

But, once again, the special teams fails the Ravens as Hauschka misses another field goal, maybe two.

In the end, the game is close, but the Ravens barely win it 14-10.

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