Week Six Preview: Chargers Vs. Ravens

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Derwin James leads the Chargers in a pregame chant before kicking off against the Browns.

Week Six Preview: Chargers Vs. Ravens

What a win the Chargers were able to have against a very good Browns team. I wrote the post-game thoughts earlier this week so I was able to give my reactions there, so let’s get right into this week.

The Los Angeles Chargers are taking on the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore this upcoming Sunday. This game is between two of the 4-1 teams in the AFC. It is without a doubt going to have ramifications throughout the rest of the season when it comes to potential playoff seeding at the end of the season. Both teams are down a few key difference-makers so other players are going to have to step up this week on both sides to take control of the AFC.

As normal, I will get into two different x-factors and two key matchups for the Chargers to be able to beat the Ravens.

X-factor 1: Get out to an early lead

I know the Ravens have excelled as a passing team this year and Lamar Jackson has been absolutely incredible, but that’s not what scares me. Getting out to an early lead is essential for a team that isn’t good at defending the run. If Ravens get out to a lead from the beginning they will be able to control the clock and run the ball over and over. I know the Chargers want teams to run and they are built to defend the pass but it flat out isn’t working this year. They’ve done very well against the pass but is just getting gashed in the run game.

I’d look for the Chargers to push the tempo early, try to get a couple of deep shots against this weak Ravens pass defense to keep the pressure on them. They are lucky that they were able to come away with a win last week but they are going against a much bigger threat at quarterback who can capitalize more often than Baker Mayfield.

Key Matchup 1: Brandon Staley Vs. Lamar Jackson

I couldn’t figure out if the Chargers were going to use Derwin James like the Colts used Darius Leonard last week as a spy on Jackson. Due to this, the best matchup of the week is the mind of Brandon Staley going against Jackson. Many people, including Staley, have stated a very obvious fact this past week that no one in the NFL is more dangerous with the ball in their hands as Lamar is. He is an unbelievable talent who can run the ball better than any quarterback that has ever been in the league while also averaging over 300 yards per game passing.

Patrick Mahomes had his worst game of the season facing the Chargers back in week three. He was inaccurate at times, threw a couple of interceptions, and just looked uncomfortable. I wrote before that game that the Chargers were going to have to keep him in the pocket in order to have a chance in that game. They kept the pressure on him constantly but limited the running lanes that he could run through. I would anticipate the Chargers are going to do something similar in this game. Jakcson is obviously a bigger threat with his legs than Mahomes is, so I do anticipate that Staley will use Derwin as a spy from time to time to limit his big plays with his legs.

X-Factor 2: Productivity On Early Downs

The Chargers are 28th in the NFL for EPA/att on first-down passes and third in the league on third downs. I’m not entirely sure why this has been the case, but it is very similar to last season. Last year they always seemed to have to be bailed out by Justin Herbert on 3rd down and it’s unfortunate that not much has changed yet. However, I am not as worried as last year because I trust this coaching staff which is analytically driven to figure it out.

I know the Chargers are trying to get quick hitters the on early downs to get Herbert in rhythm but they need to stop being so conservative. They need to start attacking the middle of the field more with their tight ends and looking for big plays in the intermediate areas of the field with Kennan Allen and Mike WilliamsI see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do this after the Ravens were picked apart with 402 yards from Carson Wentz last Monday night.

Key Matchup 2: Mark Andrews Vs. Chargers Secondary

We all saw the game last week, Mark Andrews had the best game of his career putting up 11 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He was consistently dominating all over the field and was a big reason why the Ravens were able to make a 19 point comeback. Andrews has always been Jackson’s most dependable target throughout the last few years.

I’m not entirely sure who the Chargers are going to use on Andrews, you may see Derwin James, Michael Davisor you may see some consistent double teams. If you look back throughout every game this season Brandon Staley has done a great job game-planning against the other team’s most dangerous weapon: he shut down Tyreek Hilldid a great job on Darren Wallerand despite a fluky play limited Terry McLaurin to 4 catches for 62 yards. You can tell Staley will always make it a priority to limit the opposing team’s most dangerous weapon, and this week it is Andrews.

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I believe this game is going to be more challenging than last week’s game against the Browns. I have some reservations about picking the Chargers to win since I’ve become accustomed to let-down games over the last few years. This Chargers team is proving everyone wrong week by week. I was saying weeks ago if they could make it to the bye week 3-3 that would be considered a win with how difficult this schedule is. I believe the Chargers win 31-27, with Justin Herbert throwing a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. The Chargers can be 5-1 at the top of the AFC going into their bye week. Bolt up!

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Derwin James leads the Chargers in a pregame chant before kicking off against the Browns.