Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Baltimore Ravens (1-0 1-0 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-0 0-1 ATS) Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA Sunday September 20, 2009 4:15 PM ET on CBS
By Jason Green at

Point Spread: Chargers -3/ Ravens +3
Over/Under: 40.5

This Sunday in sunny San Diego the Chargers host the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are 1-0 and while the Chargers continued their dominance over the Oakland Raiders winning 24-20, even though it was a hard-fought win, the Ravens did not look like the Ravens of the past few seasons. In their win over the Kansas City Chiefs the Ravens set a franchise record with 501 total yards and their defense did not look great in a 38-24 win.

The Chargers beat a resilient Raiders team on Monday night, as Phillip Rivers answered a pair of go-ahead scores by the Raiders, as he led 2 TD drives and Darren Sproles scored the game winner on a 5 yard run with only 18 seconds left. This win game the Chargers their 12th straight win over the Raiders. The Raiders kept it close the whole game and the Chargers did not come that close to covering the 10.5-point spread. The total of the game was 43, which was eclipsed by the 44 points scored in the game.

The Ravens are known as a defensive team, but in the win over the Kansas
City Chiefs they aired it out, as QB Joe Flacco passed
for 307 yards and 3 TD’s, which were both career highs for the 2nd year
QB. Even though the Chiefs only had 188 yards of total offense they still
scored 24 points. 5 different players for the Ravens scored a TD handing
the Chiefs their 4th straight home opening loss. The Ravens barely covered
the 13-point spread and the total of 36.5 was passed by almost 16 points.

The Chargers may have to win this game to stay in first place in the AFC West, as the 1-0 Broncos face the weak Cleveland Browns this Sunday. The Ravens are in first place in the AFC North tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who face the Chicago Bears this Sunday.

The big question for the Chargers this season is can their defense step up? Well, after the first game against the Raiders that question still remains, as they gave up 366 total yards to Oakland including 148 rushing yards. This Sunday the Chargers have to have a solid game stopping the run, as they face Baltimore’s Ray Rice who had 108 yards rushing last week.

The Ravens dominated the game against the Chiefs in terms of time of possession, as they had the ball for just over 39 minutes and the Chiefs only had the ball for just over 20 minutes. If they can dominate like that this Sunday against the Chargers they will be in good shape.

The Chargers only rushed for 77 yards and only averaged 3.3 yards per carry
against the Raiders and they cannot do that this Sunday. LeDainian Tomlinson
did have 55 yards, but he has to move the chains against the Ravens in order
to take pressure of Phillip Rivers.

The Ravens had the luxury of facing the Chiefs’ backup QB Brody Croyle last week since Matt Cassel was out with a knee injury, but facing Rivers will be another story. Their front line D will have to get to Rivers early and often and not allow him time to find his targets.

The aerial attack of the Ravens was legit against the Chiefs, but is it for real or is it just because they played Kansas City? The Chargers secondary was torched often last season and they have to have good coverage in this game if the Ravens air it out again.

Even though Chargers’ RB Darren Sproles only had 23 yards on 9 carries, he did have the game-winning touchdown run from 5 yards out and he gave the Chargers great field position with 2 long kickoff returns. The Ravens special teams will have to contain him and keep him from giving the Chargers good field position, especially if this is a low scoring game.

San Diego has to mix it up against the Ravens with the run and the pass, as the Ravens’ D is too good to beat them with a one-dimensional offense.

The Chargers are also listed at right around -155 on most moneylines, with the Bears getting +135 as away dogs.

Jason’s Pick: The Chargers looked like they found their offensive groove in the 4th quarter against the Raiders and they will have had to, especially if Joe Flacco can play like he did in last week’s 300+ yard passing performance. The Chargers are at home and a much better team then the Chiefs, so I look for them to win this game and bring the Ravens’ offense down to earth. I see the Chargers winning this game with a good blend of passing and rushing, as their D will step up and help them win this game and cover the spread.