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The Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) and the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) are set for an epic rematch in the Wild Card playoff game on Sunday afternoon. The first matchup played out to be a defensive struggle as both teams had problems getting their offenses in a rhythm. The Ravens came out on top but the win wasn’t convincing. Now, both teams are looking to bounce back from that performance.
Keys To The Game
Los Angeles are one of the most talented teams in the league. Offensively, they have no weakness as they covet a Pro Bowler at every position. Led by quarterback Phillip Rivers, the offensive can’t be predictable. He can’t be afraid to call audibles against the stout Ravens’ defensive. Running back Melvin Gordon will be playing in his third game since returning from a hamstring injury so using him in the passing game will open up running lanes later in the game.
Defensively, they have to dare quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw the ball. Stopping the run on first and second downs might sound easier said but playing gap assignments versus trying to follow the ball might be key to putting a hault to the running game.
The rookie sensation, Jackson, has been electrifying in the running game during his 6-1 record as a starter. He’s spiraled a rushing attack that hasn’t been figured out. Knowing that the Chargers are looking to stop the run, play-action pass early will open up the run even more and keep them off balance.
Baltimore’s main priority on defense should be getting as much pressure on Rivers as possible. Being that he is not mobile, sacking him is probability, which will put them in predictable situations. If Gordon is able to get loose in the running game, then play-action becomes an option and that will have the Ravens defense on their heels.
The x-factor for Chargers is wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams has started to come into his own lately. Wide out Keenan Allen will attract a lot of attention, so Williams has to win his one-on-one match-ups. If this happens, everything else opens up.
The x-factor for the Ravens is linebacker Matt Judon. The weakside linebacker that plays opposite of Terrell Suggs must play “meet me at the quarterback”. Yet still, he has to be just as important disrupting Gordon and company off the edges during the run.
This should once again be a close game. Both teams are stubborn in their offensive approach but whoever breaks first loses. Chargers wins in a last minute drive by Rivers.