Overview: The Baltimore Ravens face their second straight opponent from the AFC West as they travel to San Diego to face the dangerous Chargers.
This could be an interesting early season matchup as the Ravens looked excellent in their victory over the Chiefs while the Chargers struggled against the Raiders and needed some late heroics to pull out the victory.
This game could go a long way toward determining the caliber of the NFC West as if Baltimore is able to travel cross country and win, it could show that while the Chargers may be the class of the West, they aren’t really on par with the top teams from the other divisions.
For that reason, watch for San Diego to be fired up and determined to show that their sluggish performance against the Raiders was not a sign of things to come.
Last Week: The Baltimore Ravens racked up a franchise record 501 yards as they looked explosive both running and throwing the football in a 38-24 win over Kansas City. Second year quarterback Joe Flacco passed for a career-high 307 yards and three touchdowns and appears ready to move into the elite class of quarterbacks in the NFL.
San Diego pulled out a 24-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders, but the game was in doubt until the final minutes. Considering that most have the Raiders down as being one of the five worst teams in the league, that is not a good opening showing.
All-Time Series: The Ravens and Chargers have met six times since 1996 with both teams winning three times. Their last meeting was in San Diego on November 25, 2007 with San Diego winning 32-14. Phillip Rivers passed for three scores, two to Antonio Gates, in the victory.
Key Questions Entering Week Two:
Baltimore Ravens: Traditionally a run-oriented offense, the Ravens came out throwing against Kansas City and never looked back. The question many across the NFL are asking is if they can really maintain that kind of high-powered offense for the entire season. Joe Flacco showed a lot of confidence during the preseason and looked even better against the Chiefs. If they are able to maintain a consistent passing attack to go with their running game, it could be a long year for opposing defensive coordinators.
San Diego Chargers: Many are wondering if the LaDainian Tomlinson era in San Diego is starting to wind down. Injuries hampered the 30-year old star a year ago and he didn’t look like his explosive self against the Raiders. He was not in the game late in the contest when they needed a touchdown to win. Tomlinson carried the ball 13 times for 55 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders with his backup, Darren Sproles carrying the ball nine times, including the game-winning 5-yard run in the last minute..
Player To Watch:
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens defense did not force a turnover, but allowed only 188 yards of offense in the victory over the Chiefs. Facing a more talented offense in the Chargers, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed and the rest of the defense will get their first real test of the season. If they can stop Tomlinson and the running game, then they can put pressure on Rivers, who threw one touchdown and one interception against the Raiders.
San Diego Chargers: Shawne Merriman had five tackles in his first game back after missing most of the 2008 season with a knee injury. Against Joe Flacco and the Ravens, it will be crucial for Merriman and the San Diego defense better than they were in week one when they allowed Oakland to gain 366 total yards, including 148 on the ground.
Predictions: If one of these teams were coming off a tough loss and desperately needed the win to keep from digging into an early hole this game would probably be easier to pick. I believe that while San Diego has been a sexy playoff pick for the last several years, that they are starting to show some age and that Baltimore is actually a slightly stronger all-around team. The fact that they are playing in San Diego makes this one more of a toss up, but I still tend to believe that Ray Lewis will have his defense fired up and the Ravens will pull out the victory. Final Score: Ravens 20, Chargers 14.