The Chargers-Ravens Matchup and the Bolts Keys to Victory
The Los Angeles Chargers versus The Baltimore Ravens rematch has all the implications of a historic unforgettable game. There is nothing about this rematch that is boring or somber. Both teams either through benching and new coaching philosophies have found themselves playing in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game. For the Chargers, this is a chance to bring a jolt of electricity to a fan base that is in dire need of some playoff success. A simple playoff appearance will not suffice, a playoff victory against the Ravens can change everything.
With so much on the line, the Chargers must find their offensive swag early. Meaning, no slow starts riddled with turnovers that inconveniently keeps the defense on the field way longer than expected. In their recent matchup on December 22nd, 2018, the stat that stood out the most was the total yardage. In what was statistically the Chargers worst game of the season, they could only produce 198 total yards. This horrible game also included three self-destructing turnovers. Overall, the Ravens gave the Bolts a severe gut check that showed all their weaknesses.
More touches for Melvin Gordon III
Melvin Gordon III role as the featured back on the Chargers team cannot be limited in the playoffs. Unlike their most recent game against the Ravens, Gordon III was returning from a knee injury. So, he was slowly being worked into the offense the whole game. In that 22-10 lost to the Ravens in December, Gordon III finished with just three catches for 13 yards and 12 carries for 41 yards. He did finish the game with the only touchdown albeit a 1 yard rush in the 3rd quarter. This lack of production will not translate into a playoff win, especially against the Ravens who have the No. 1 defense in the league.
Gordon’s involvement can’t be finite, it must be overwhelming and impactful. To keep the Ravens defense high-strung, the Chargers will have to incorporate the run to enhance their playoff success. Gordon III will also need to be more than a pleasant red zone scoring touchdown machine. For the chargers, play action will not be possible if Gordon III can’t suck in the defense by running for a few long runs. A win will not occur if Gordon III is not touching the football at least 20 to 30 times in this game. As one of the star offensive players on the Chargers team, his production against the Ravens will be paramount.
Controlling the Ravens Rushing Prowess
The Ravens are equipped with a running quarterback that can do it all with his feet. Lamar Jackson has turned the Ravens franchise into a Super Bowl contender in less than two months. With the injury of Flacco, the Ravens took a risk in starting Jackson and now that risk has turned into a reward. But, even after all that admiration for Jackson, what made him such a threat against the Chargers was his ability to extend plays. The Ravens rookie running back Gus Edwards also finished the game with 14 carries for 92 rushing yards. Edwards most notable rush came on a 43-yard run that seemingly depleted the spirits of the Chargers defense.
With Jackson and Edwards taking any yards they could get at will in their last game against the Chargers, Joey Bosa will need to play spoiler. In the previous matchup, Bosa only had two tackles and .5 sacks. He was credited with 1.5 tackles for losses. That production coming from Bosa is saddening. Bosa’s role this time against the Ravens must be unfamiliar. In other words, he must ball out against the Ravens with stats that include possible pass deflections and strip sacks. Due to Bosa’s athleticism, he must be the first line of containment, especially for Jackson when he decides to scrabble.
As franchise faces of the Chargers, Gordon III and Bosa have to play the best games of their lives against the Ravens. Putting so many expectations on both player’s is not ideal but in the playoff’s, the best player’s must either touch the ball or wreak havoc on defense. For Los Angeles, Baltimore is the first city on this 2018-19 Chargers NFL Playoff Tour that stands in the way of them capturing a championship. Gordon III against the Ravens Defense and Bosa versus the Ravens rushing attack will be two key deciding factors that will decide the outcome of this AFC Wildcard Playoff game.