BALTIMORE — The Ravens host the Chargers on Sunday.
Here are the matchups to watch, along with who has the advantage and a prediction.
Passing Offense: Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had the most dominant performance of his career in a 31-25 overtime victory last week over the Colts. Jackson threw for a career-high — and single-game franchise record — 442 yards, surpassing his previous mark of 324 at Miami in 2019. Jackson passed for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing 86% of his passes (37 of 43). Jackson became the first player in NFL history to pass for 400 yards while also completing at least 85% of his passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Chargers have a much better secondary than the Colts led by Asante Samuel Jr., who has two interceptions. The Chargers are also able to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks with Joey Bosa (2.5 sacks) and Kyler Fackrell (2 sacks). Los Angeles ranks 7th in the NFL allowing 214.2 yards passing per game.
Rushing Offense: The Ravens had the NFL's top running attack in each of the last two seasons, sometimes amassing more than 200 yards in a game. The running attack has still been efficient but it's not having the same production as previous years. Baltimore is ranked fourth in the NFL with 148.8 yards per game, which is still impressive. Last week, the Colts managed to halt the Ravens' high-powered running attack, becoming the first team in more than three years to hold Baltimore to under 100 yards rushing. Baltimore finished with 72 yards on 22 carries. Jackson leads the Ravens with 341 yards rushing, followed by Ty'Son Williams (170 yards) and Latavius Murray (168). The Chargers have the league's worst run defense, allowing 157.6 yards per game. Baltimore will try to set the tone on the ground.
Passing Defense: The Ravens have struggled to get off the field and the Chargers will pose another huge challenge because of their high-powered passing offense. Los Angeles is averaging 28.4 points per game, which is tied for sixth in the NFL. Justin Herbert has thrown for 1,576 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His favorite targets are Mike Williams (31 catches, 471 yards), Keenan Allen (34 catches, 369 yards) and Jared Cook (17 catches, 210 yards). The Ravens' secondary has been hampered by injuries and is allowing 296.4 yards per game, which is tied for 28th in the NFL.
Rushing Defense: Los Angeles' running attack is led by Austin Ekeler (349 yards, 5.2 ypc). Baltimore has been mostly stout against the run with nose tackle Brandon Williams holding down the middle of the field. Baltimore is allowing 93.2 yards rushing per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL. The Chargers will try to keep the Ravens off-balance with running the ball, but their strength is throwing downfield.
Justin Tucker has converted 11 of 12 field-goal attempts, including his 66-yard game-winner against the Lions. Punter Sam Koch has been steady and solid. Devin Duvernay has averaged 17.2 yards on 11 punt returns. Charges kicker Tristan Vizcaino has made just 10 of 14 extra-point attempts. Los Angeles is also allowing 16.5 yards on 10 kickoff returns.
The Ravens have been battle-tested this season and will get another hard-fought battle from the resurgent Chargers. Baltimore might have to get into a shootout, similar to the Colts game. The Ravens should be able to make enough plays down the stretch to outlast the Chargers. Jackson outplays Herbert. The Ravens are playing on a short week, but Los Angeles is dealing with a three-hour time change and a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Ravens 34, Chargers 31