Chargers Preview: Getting To Know The Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson is the first player in NFL history with 400 passing yards and 85% completion percentage in a game.

Chargers Preview: Getting To Know The Baltimore Ravens

The Los Angeles Chargers will head to Baltimore this weekend with the chance to be 5-1 for the first time since 2014. This is yet another monumental matchup with another top-tier AFC team for the Chargers and it’s one that assuredly will have seeding ramifications down the road for both teams. Let’s dive into the Ravens’ side of things.

2020 Season In Review

The Ravens headed into the 2020 NFL season with a lot of confidence. Lamar Jackson had just become the second-ever unanimous league MVP after guiding the team to a 14-2 season and putting up video game numbers. What followed was a bit more up and down than I think people expected heading into the season. 

The Ravens started out the season 5-1, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. After their week seven bye, the Ravens hit a bit of a wall and lost four of their next five games. One of those games was the famous Covid-bowl against the Steelers that happened on a random Wednesday because each team was dealing with major breakouts. 

The thing that compounded the losses was that the team seemingly was unable to get their rushing attack working at the scale that it was previously. People started to realize how much they missed future hall of famer Marshal Yanda, and then Ronnie Stanley got hurt (something he is still dealing with), and suddenly the Ravens’ identity was shaken.

After the Covid-bowl the Ravens were able to rebound and win each of their next five games, culminating with a 38-3 drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17. Then they opened up the NFL’s Wildcard weekend by beating the Tennessee Titans in a rematch of the divisional round from the year prior. Jackson was able to show the world that he was in fact capable of winning a playoff game, after hearing that he couldn’t for basically an entire year. Unfortunately, he was injured late in the third quarter the following week against the Bills and their season came to an end. Despite the win against the Titans, the Ravens entered the 2021 offseason with plenty of questions.

Key Additions And Departures

The offseason focus for the Ravens was clear: first and foremost, get Jackson more weapons and then figure out the offensive line and the pass rush. That started by signing Sammy Watkins and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. Watkins would theoretically provide them with the consistent secondary receiving option that they haven’t really had since Jackson took over as starting quarterback, and by signing Zeitler they finally filled the void on the interior of the offensive line left by Yanda’s retirement. 

The next step came in the draft, where they traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs for a first-round pick and some change. They then used their first-round pick to draft Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota and used the Chiefs’ former first-round pick to draft an edge rusher out of Penn State, Odafe Oweh. While everyone thought they would use that Chiefs pick to replace Brown, they actually used it to replace Matt Judon who signed a big contract with the Patriots. 

After the draft, they signed veterans Justin Houston and Alejandro Villanueva to fill in the gaps along the offensive and defensive lines.

Other notable draft picks include: guard Ben Cleveland out of Georgia, wide receiver Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, defensive backs Brandon Stephens (SMU) and Shaun Wade (Ohio State) – who they have since traded, edge rusher Daelin Hayes out of Notre Dame, and finally former Michigan fullback Ben Mason.

2021 Outlook

It’s obviously early in the season, but none of these offseason additions have really paid off for the Ravens just yet – outside of Zeitler who has been solid, and Oweh who is far and away the most productive rookie pass rusher. Bateman and Watkins have each been hurt, which has put even more responsibility on Jackson’s plate.

Villanueva was a disaster at right tackle on opening weekend against the Raiders and has since moved back to left tackle while Stanley deals with his recovery relapse. Villanueva currently leads the league in most pressures allowed, per Pro Football Focus. Cleveland is also now hurt, which will lead to more shuffling of the offensive line so it appears that their unit is going to continue to struggle until they are able to get healthy. Despite the poor offensive line play, Jackson has continued to grow as a passer and actually leads the league in Average Depth of Target and is right behind Justin Herbert at 5th in passing yards. 

Where the injuries have really hurt them is in the rushing game. Outside of the offensive line they famously lost J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all to season-ending injuries in the span of a couple of weeks. They’re trying to figure out which carcass of a formerly productive NFL running back can be their replacements, and it is not working. 

The good news for the Ravens is that, while these things are hurting their productivity, they are still winning games. Jackson is a former MVP and might be the choice again this year if he keeps this current pace up. He has improved as a passer each year since being drafted, and now we are possibly seeing the start of his true peak. As Coach Staley said this week, “there’s danger on every snap” when Jackson takes the field. Because of that, the Ravens will be there in the end, as long as Jackson is able to stay on the field. 

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History Against The Chargers

The Chargers and Ravens have played 13 times, and some of them have created some painful memories for fans of the Bolts. Whether it be the 2018 loss when the Ravens knocked the Chargers out of the one seed in the AFC, the Ray Rice game, or when no one remembered to block Ray Lewis. But the recent matchup is one of my favorite Chargers memories because they got redemption from the previous loss and won a playoff game in Baltimore. Fans will hearken back to the strip-sack that Uchenna Nwosu forced on Jackson but the first down celebration from Philip Rivers and subsequent mic’d up video from Keenan Allen will always be a very fond personal memory of mine. The Chargers can tie the all-time series with the Ravens with a victory on Sunday. The Ravens currently hold the edge with seven wins.


If you had asked me to make a prediction for this game six weeks ago, I would have picked the Ravens. Baltimore is a very difficult place to play and the Chargers would be going through the ringer beforehand. Those two sentiments are both true, but the Ravens are extremely injured and the Chargers seem to have taken that step we were all hoping for. Jackson is playing great, but Herbert is playing better. I don’t have any reason to doubt that Herbert will put up huge numbers against this Ravens defense, especially after watching Carson Wentz put up over 400 yards against them on Monday night. I’m going Chargers 27 – Ravens 23.


Lamar Jackson is the first player in NFL history with 400 passing yards and 85% completion percentage in a game. Via ESPN Stats & Info