Can the Ravens (1-6) end another three-game skid, and at least head into their bye in Week 9 on a positive note? The Ravens host the Chargers (2-5) on Sunday (1 p.m.), and San Diego has also lost three straight. Here are five things that should worry the Ravens, and a prediction:
1. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is having a monster year.
Rivers has thrown for at least 336 yards in four straight games, and he’s completing almost 70 percent (69.1) of his passes. It will be a bigger surprise if Rivers doesn’t throw for 300 yards against the Ravens than if he does. Figuring out how to contain Rivers is keeping defensive coordinator Dean Pees up at night.
“You can talk about Peyton (Manning), and you can talk about (Tom) Brady, but I don’t know that anybody controls the offense more than Rivers does,” Pees said.
2. The Chargers’ most-recent memory of M&T Bank Stadium is a good one.
In Week 13 last season, the Chargers pinned a 34-33 loss on the Ravens at M&T. Rivers threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner to Eddie Royal with 46 seconds left.
3. The Ravens’ intimidation factor at home is gone.
Having lost both home games so far, the Ravens can’t count on being at M&T to solve their struggles. And their fan base is restless. If the Ravens want to avoid hearing boos Sunday, here’s a suggestion. Don’t fall behind early.
“I’m sure our fans are not particularly happy with our record and our position, but we’ve got to go out there, and we’ve got to play our best and go win a football game, and another one, and another one,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. “But it starts with the first one.”
4. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has been wearing out cornerbacks.
Allen is third in the NFL in receiving yards (690), and the Ravens’ secondary has endured coverage issues all season. Allen could be the next receiver to top 100 yards against Baltimore.
5. Expect the Chargers to blitz Flacco, which could pressure him into mistakes.
Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) may be out of the lineup, and the Cardinals had success bringing blitz pressure against Flacco on Monday night. If Flacco is forced into bad throws that lead to a turnover or two, the Ravens’ problems will be compounded.
PREDICTION: Despite the danger that Rivers brings, the Chargers are not a good football team, especially on defense. Ravens running back Justin Forsett should be able to do business, and the Ravens’ defense showed signs of improvement in Arizona. It will be close, but the Ravens will get win No. 2.
RAVENS 23, CHARGERS 20
MORE RAVENS: Will Ravens rookie Breshad Perriman play in 2015?