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Ravens vs. Chargers AFC Wild Card: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens vs. Chargers AFC Wild Card: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens (10-6) are where they want to be. As AFC North champions, they've earned the right to host a playoff game.

Their reward? Facing the 12-4 Chargers, who just saw this Ravens offense up close two weeks ago.

The Ravens can look at this matchup favorably or negatively, depending on what factors are considered important. If you value a team showing what they can do already, then you probably prefer Baltimore, who dominated the Chargers en route to a 22-10 road victory on short rest in Week 16.

There's something to be said for the Chargers now having experienced this Ravens offense. It won't catch them by surprise. Plus, the Chargers have actually been much better on the road this season, going 7-1 away from their "home" stadium.

The Ravens are 3-1 all-time against the Chargers in Baltimore, and overall under John Harbaugh they're 4-2.

In the Wild Card Round since 2008, the beginning of the John Harbaugh Era, the Ravens are undefeated at 5-0.

Baltimore is still surprisingly healthy, which played a key role in capturing their first AFC North title since 2012. Both sides should have most of their key contributors available come Sunday. 

Deja Vu All Over Again

One of the keys to the Ravens' nice run to end the regular season was their unique style of offense. Most offenses in 2018 average around 65% of their plays through the air, and 35% on the ground. In Baltimore, that number is flipped. Ever since Lamar Jackson entered the starting lineup for the Ravens, a run-heavy approach has followed. 

It's not just the commitment to the ground game, but how they've gone about it, that's impressed. The Ravens use all sorts of misdirection and run-pass options to keep the defense guessing, and then by the time they realize what's happening, Lamar Jackson is already past them, or Gus Edwards is bowling them over.

The advantage the Ravens have had is in how difficult it is to prepare for a run-heavy attack in a pass-heavy world. The Chargers, in particular, are specifically built to stop passing offenses. But the Ravens don't pass.

This is why it's so interesting to see how the rematch goes. It will be the first time in Jackson's short career that a team will be seeing him for a second time. The Chargers won't be fooled by the unorthodox formations and style; they just spent 60 minutes trying to defend it in late December.

It's pretty rare for a rookie quarterback to beat a quality defense twice in the same season, let alone in a rematch coming so quickly. Even just beating a quality defense in the postseason in general is difficult. No rookie quarterback has beaten a defense ranked top 10 in DVOA since Joe Flacco back in 2008. Jackson will have to do something almost unheard of in order for Baltimore to come out on top.

QB Comparison

Philip Rivers, the Chargers' signal-caller, is one of the most prolific quarterbacks of any era. He has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career from every angle except one. He has yet to make a Super Bowl run, and he won't have many more opportunities as he nears 40.

When it comes to experience, Rivers dwarfs what Jackson can bring to the table. Rivers has been in the league since 2004. Jackson is about to become the youngest starting quarterback in NFL postseason history, with his 22nd birthday on Monday. Rivers has played in an AFC Championship Game before. Jackson, obviously has never played in January.

Their styles of play could hardly be much different, either. In the first meeting between these two teams, Jackson threw for 204 yards, which is currently his career high. Rivers regularly tops 300 passing yards. Jackson just set the single season record for quarterback rushes, a remarkable feat considering he only made seven starts. Rivers is a pure pocket passer who much prefers checkdowns to scrambles.

Rivers struggled mightily against the Ravens in Week 16, throwing for just 181 yards, to go along with two interceptions and no touchdowns for the first time all season. Many of his issues stemmed from the pressure the Ravens were able to get, as he was sacked four times and hit countless others. With his lack of mobility, Rivers relies on a clean pocket more than a quarterback like Jackson, and if the defensive line can show up in a big way again, he could be in for another long afternoon.

Set Your Alarms

Everyone knew the Chargers would have to go on the road as a wild card team if they couldn't overtake the Kansas City Chiefs, despite their superior record to the Ravens. What has Los Angeles crying foul even more so is the timing of the game. The Chargers, who play on the west coast, are playing the Ravens at 1 p.m. Eastern. Which means their body clocks will be at 10 a.m. for kickoff. 

West coast teams notoriously struggle when playing early on the East coast, so the Ravens will hope to jump on the Chargers early as they "wake up" during the first half. This could end up especially crucial when you consider how much the Ravens rely on controlling the tempo of the game. 

What the Chargers (and any team facing Baltimore) wants to do more than anything is get off to an early lead, forcing to the Ravens to consider abandoning their extreme run-heavy approach. The truth is, we don't know exactly how the Ravens would respond to being down two touchdowns early, because it just hasn't happened in the Lamar Jackson Era. 

The early start time could make this less of a concern for the Ravens, Of course, that may just be wishful thinking. As we mentioned earlier, the Chargers have had a ton of success on the road this season, and that includes games on the East coast.

Either way, the Ravens will be in for a tough battle. The Chargers won't be an easy out, and a betting line of Ravens -3 at home shows that Vegas views these two as essentially even. 

If the Ravens can continue to control the time of possession, prevent big plays from the Chargers, and turn Philip Rivers over once or twice, it's hard to imagine their winning formula failing them now. It's a balancing act, though, and any one play going the wrong direction could be devastating. Postseason football is finally back in Charm City, and this team certainly doesn't want to see it end just as soon as it began.

Click here to see the Ravens-Chargers injury report. Here's everything you need to know.

Ravens vs. Chargers AFC North Wild Card How to Watch:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers

What: AFC Wild Card Round

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, 1:05 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV - Try free trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 51 degrees, mainly sunny, 10 mph winds

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9. Ravens vs. Bills. Win, 47-3 (1-0)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 Ravens at Bengals. Loss, 34-23 (1-1)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 Ravens vs. Broncos. Win, 27-14 (2-1)

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 Ravens at Steelers. Win, 26-14 (3-1)

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 Ravens at Browns. Loss, 12-9 (3-2)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 Ravens at Titans. Win, 21-0 (4-2)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m. Loss, 24-23 (4-3)

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 36-21 (4-4)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 23-16 (4-5)

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. Win 24-21 (5-5)

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m. Win 34-17 (6-5)

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m. Win 26-16 (7-5)

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. Loss 27-24 (7-6)

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., Win 20-12 (8-6)

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 @ Chargers, 8:20 p.m. Win 22-10 (9-6)

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 4:25 p.m. (10-6, AFC North Champions)

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Kirk Cousins imploded and the Vikings missed out on the playoffs

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Kirk Cousins imploded and the Vikings missed out on the playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS  -- The NFC North champion Chicago Bears refused to let up, riding Jordan Howard for 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns and that relentless defense for a 24-10 victory over Minnesota on Sunday that kept the rival Vikings out of the playoffs.

With the 24-0 win by Philadelphia at Washington, the Vikings (8-7-1) watched the Eagles claim the last wild-card spot and went home wondering what happened to their offense after signing Kirk Cousins for $84 million guaranteed to be the franchise quarterback.

Tarik Cohen scored the last touchdown on a short run with 7:46 left to cap a 16-play drive for the Bears (12-4), who posted their best regular-season record since the 2006 team finished 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl. They've won nine of their last 10 games.

The Bears began the afternoon with an opportunity, albeit unlikely, to get a first-round bye with a victory and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams. Rookie head coach Matt Nagy was unmoved by the big early lead taken by the Rams, though, keeping quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the entire game and only holding out the starters who were already previously injured.

Trubisky moved the chains four times on third down during the game-sealing scoring drive, completing three passes and running once for a first down. He took a sack by Anthony Barr that would've forced a punt from the Minnesota 45, but a holding penalty on Vikings safety Jayron Kearse gave Chicago a fresh set of downs.

After spending the majority of the last two decades trying to keep up with Green Bay, the Vikings have overtaken the Packers only to have their other primary rival the Bears surge to the top of the division. Whether Cousins or Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings under coach Mike Zimmer have had plenty of trouble moving the ball against the Bears.

Once again, they were out of sync against Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller and the rest of that defense, which established a franchise record for fewest rushing yards allowed in one season. Done in by three-and-outs on their first four possessions, the Vikings finished with only 164 total yards.

Cousins and Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen were in a heated argument on the sideline after the Vikings had to settle for a field goal at the end of the second quarter.

Zimmer almost cost the Vikings a touchdown when he challenged the spot of a reception by Dalvin Cook, who stepped out of bounds right at the marker. Cousins sneaked for the first down on fourth-and-1, only to have the play blown dead by the red flag. Cook was able to get the first down on the next play.

Stefon Diggs, who went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his four-year career, caught a short touchdown pass right after that.

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Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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USA TODAY Sports

Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

There is a crowded AFC playoff bubble right now and the Baltimore Ravens are the one team standing at the top. 

Baltimore (6-5) is fortunate enough to have their playoff destiny in their own hands. Win out and they are in the postseason, at the very least they are a Wild Card team. 

Nipping at their heels heading into Week 13 are five other teams. Leading the charge are the Indianapolis Colts, one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Baltimore will have to be on their marks to prevent the Colts from overtaking them. Right now the Ravens have only a slight edge in AFC record at 6-3 against the Colts' 5-4 AFC record.

Don't count out the division title either for the Ravens as the Pittsburgh Steelers have a horrid schedule on their plate. Win the division and higher seeds quickly come into play. But, before we get to talking about higher seed it's time to worry about this week. 

Ravens Week 13 Rooting Guide

Buffalo Bills (4-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

An easy decision here as Buffalo has the worse record and the Ravens already hold the tiebreaker over the Bills. The Dolphins are only a game behind the Ravens for the final spot in the AFC and are well within striking range. These two squads, the Bills and the Dolphins, will meet again in Week 17 and they each have the New England Patriots one more time on their schedule. Root for the Bills.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Aside from them having the best record of the teams on the outside looking in, Indianapolis should be the team the Ravens are the most scared of. No. 1 they have Andrew Luck. No. 2 they have an easier schedule than Baltimore. The combined record of the Colts' remaining opponents is 25-30. The Ravens' opponents are 29-25-1. Jacksonville is no longer a threat in the Wild Card race, root for the Jaguars.

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) vs. Houston Texans (8-3)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Either way this one turns out would not be the end of the world for the Ravens. That is assuming the Ravens believe they still have a shot at the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Steelers have a rough stretch of games to end the season, which Baltimore would need to pass first. Then, the Texans are only two games up on Baltimore. Getting to the playoffs is the first priority though and the Ravens do not have any wiggle room. Cleveland is 1.5 games back and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baltimore. They should be a bigger concern so root for the Texans in this matchup.

Denver Broncos (5-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Baltimore wants neither of these two teams since both of them are a mere game out of the Ravens. Holding the Week 3 victory over the Broncos in the Ravens' pocket is the difference. Cincy and Baltimore both split the season series, so the next tiebreaker will be the divisional record. Root for the Broncos, despite them being one of the hottest teams in the AFC right now. 

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-9)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

An Oakland loss or a Baltimore win will end the Raiders' faint postseason hopes. They are no threat to the Ravens so just root for the Raiders in case something crazy happens down the stretch.

New York Jets (3-8) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

Building a wedge between the Ravens and the other teams on their tail is always a good thing. Baltimore has the tiebreaker over Tennessee already but they don't want it to come to that. Root for the Jets.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) vs. New England Patriots (8-3) 
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:25 p.m.

There is no reason to not root against the Patriots. They are playing a NFC team so there is nothing for the Ravens to lose if they root for the Vikings this week.

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:20 p.m.

If you are reading this we're assuming you're a Ravens fan so you don't need a reminder that the world is always better when the Steelers lose. That still should be the focus, but it would not be the end of the world if the Chargers fell in this matchup. Root for the Chargers.

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