L.A. Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
When: 1:05 PM ET, Sunday, January 6, 2019
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
BALTIMORE – The Los Angeles Chargers finished tied with the best record in the AFC but one loss over the final six games cost them a chance at the No. 1 overall seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Instead, the Chargers have to open the postseason on the road and will get a chance to avenge a Week 16 defeat when they visit the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Although Los Angeles lost 22-10 — a deceptive margin after a late fumble was returned for a score — in the first matchup versus the Ravens, it will take a 7-1 road mark into the rematch in Baltimore. “We love coming into your place — whichever team you may be — and doing our thing,” Chargers rookie safety Derwin James said. “Our motto around here is ‘Any squad, any place,’ that’s what we say around here.” The Ravens went 6-1 down the stretch after turning the offense over to rookie Lamar Jackson, who will become the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game. “It’s just a name — ‘the playoffs,'” Jackson said. “You’re trying to get the championship now. It was for us to get in it, and we’re in it now, so we want the big thing. We want the big thing now.”
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -3. O/U: 42
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (12-4): Philip Rivers had one of the finest seasons of his 15-year career, posting a passer rating of 105.5 while throwing for 4,308 with 32 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions, but Baltimore picked him off twice and held him to a season-low 181 yards. Running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in Week 16 in his first game back after missing the previous three with an ankle injury, but he said this week that he feels much healthier entering the rematch. Keenan Allen is the favorite target of Rivers with 97 receptions for 1,196 yards and leads a talented receiving corps that could see the return of tight end Hunter Henry, sidelined since May with a torn ACL. Melvin Ingram, one of seven Chargers named to the Pro Bowl, and fellow defensive end Joey Bosa combined for 12.5 sacks for the NFL’s No. 9 defense.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (10-6): Jackson relied just as much on his legs as his arm since taking over for an injured Joe Flacco, but he threw for a season-high 204 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers, who held him to a rushing low of 39 yards in his seven starts. Running back Gus Edwards moved into the starting lineup at the same time as Jackson and had three 100-yard games while never rushing for fewer than 67 yards, including 92 on 14 carries at Los Angeles. Kenneth Dixon had at least eight carries in all five games in December, rushing for 289 yards on 47 attempts, but neither John Brown, Michael Crabtree or Willie Snead has seen regular targets with Jackson at quarterback. Baltimore features the league’s No. 1 overall defense, ranking fourth against the rush (82.9 yards), fifth versus the pass (210.0) and second in points allowed (17.9).
1. Rivers can become the fourth QB to post a passer rating of at least 115.0 in three straight playoff games.
2. Jackson was 4-0 at home, including three games with at least 90 yards rushing.
3. Gordon scored nine touchdowns in six road games this season.