Week 12’s game of the week features the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens traveling to San Diego to take on the slumping Chargers. The Ravens have won 7 of their last 8 games, including their last game against division rival Pittsburgh. On the other hand, the Chargers have struggled. The Chargers have won only 4 games this year, and all of them were against the worst teams in the NFL. But still, this could be a close game as Phillip Rivers and that Charger offense is always dangerous.
Key Matchup: Ray Rice vs. Charger rush defense. The Ravens are trying to get back into their rhythm of running the ball. If they want to seriously contend for the Super Bowl, they need to continue to do that. Ray Rice has been running well, but the Chargers have the 3rd best rush defense in the NFL. Look for this matchup to be the most important of the night. If the Chargers shut Rice down, they could very well upset the Ravens.
Injury Report: The Ravens have a pretty clean bill of health, as they return several guys, including Ngata, back on defense. Likewise, Ed Reed has dealt with his injuries (and appealed his suspension) and will be playing in the game. The Chargers aren’t as lucky. They’ll be missing dynamic receiver Eddie Royal because of a hamstring and it is doubtful that Dante Rosario will play either. The Chargers aren’t very strong in their receiving corps anyway; this loss of Royal could be really big.
Player to Watch: Torrey Smith. The Chargers are much better at stopping the run than the pass. I expect Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense to have to resort to throwing the ball all over the field. This could be big news for Torrey Smith. Smith already has 7 touchdowns on the season and will look to add a couple more against this soft secondary of the Chargers, look for him to have a big day.
My Prediction: Ravens 34 Chargers 24. I think the Chargers have a tough time slowing this offense down. Rice will have a decent day running the ball but I think the majority of the yards and touchdowns come through the air. The Chargers would normally put up more points than this on this weak of a defense, but they just haven’t been clicking lately. I think the Ravens win this game pretty handedly and it is never in doubt in the 4th quarter.