Friday, September 18, 2009

San Diego vs. Baltimore Preview

The Silver and Black stench is clearing up and the Chargers will return to the blue sky and golden sun of San Diego this week. It's their turn to go a little berserk in front of the home crowd and smack the Ravens.

LaDanian Tomlinson will not go, but because the Chargers wisely retained Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett this off season, the Ravens will have to honor the run as Phillip Rivers looks to light up the passing game down field. He needs to avoid the best safety in the league in Ed Reed. Using Antonio Gates and Legedu Naanee across the middle against an older and slower Ray Lewis might be a wise choice and keep Lewis from being to quick to stuff the run up the middle. Look for screens and sweeps to Michael Bennett who still has unnatural speed.

The Charger's patchwork offensive line will be tested by Haloti Ngata (their younger version of Jamal Williams) and their own inexperience. I'm guessing the Chargers will attempt to use quick slants and screens to minimize the impact of the inexperienced line and not give much time for the Ravens to get to Rivers. That's good news when you have Bennett and Sproles in the backfield. Let's face it, the standard run game hasn't clicked for years, why would it suddenly gel this week against the Ravens, with the career back-ups in the game? Norv will have to get creative, BUT be thankful we have him. Martyball won't work this Sunday.

It seems pretty obvious how the Ravens will attack the Charger's defense. Tight End Todd Heap down the middle until the Chargers stop it and deep passes in the direction of Steve Gregory and Clinton Hart, all set up by pounding the running game. The Ravens have some talented running backs in Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and big Le'Ron McClain.

Hopefully, the adjustments San Diego made after the first quarter of last week's debacle against the Raiders will carry through to this week. The Chargers have to hope Jamal Williams is healthy enough to play and be effective. The home field setting should help the defense get a little more pumped up in getting off the ball and making aggressive plays.

Raven's quarterback Joe Flacco looked like a Hall of Famer against a terrible Chiefs defense last week. This week San Diego will expose him as a mildly inexperienced quarterback not ready to be anointed the next Dan Marino just yet.

This one will be low scoring, close and ugly. The Chargers will pull it out by a field goal:

San Diego 16 Ravens 14

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