Two of the hottest teams in the AFC meet when the AFC West-leading Los Angeles Chargers head East to face the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have won four straight games—only the Bills have a streak as long in the AFC. That includes a 19-point comeback on Monday Night Football. The Chargers have won four straight. let’s see the NFL odds.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, 17 October 2021, 1:00 PM EDT at M&T Bank Stadium
Two of the hottest teams in the AFC meet when the AFC West leaders, the Los Angeles Chargers, head east to face the first-place team in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are tied with the Buffalo Bills with an AFC leading 4-1 record.
The Ravens have won four straight games—only the Bills have a streak as long in the conference. That includes a 19-point comeback to beat the Colts on Monday Night Football earlier this week. The Chargers have won three straight. Most recently, they topped the Browns in a wild 47-42 shootout on Sunday. The game also features an epic quarterback matchup between two early candidates for MVP.
Hardest Work Is Ending
After this week’s game, the Chargers will have played their first six games against the Cowboys, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, and Ravens, in addition to Washington. Posting a division-leading record against that schedule is impressive, and the path clears significantly for Los Angeles going forward. The remaining 11 teams on the schedule have a combined 24-31 record.
Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert has shown that he’s a star on the rise. Last week, he torched a strong Cleveland Browns’ defense, passing for 398 yards, four touchdown passes, and a scoring run. He’s averaged 300 yards and four touchdown passes over the last three games and hasn’t thrown an interception over that time, a span of 119 straight passes.
After beating the Browns, Herbert must be looking forward to throwing against a Ravens secondary that ranks No. 28 in pass defense in the NFL, allowing 296 yards a game. Baltimore’s run defense is much better, ranking No. 7. The Chargers are also taking risks on fourth down and succeeding.
Los Angeles is seven of eight on fourth down this season. Only the Broncos (eight of nine) have been more successful more often. Los Angeles suffered a big blow to the offense with a season-ending knee injury to right tackle Oday Aboushi.
He had allowed just five pressures and no sacks this year. He was replaced last week by Michael Schofield, and the team signed Senio Kelemete from the 49ers practice squad to provide depth.
One Man Show
Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been putting on a show for Baltimore this year. The dual-threat runner and passer have accumulated 1,860 yards of total offense on his own. If he were a team, he would rank 15th in the league, ahead of 18 teams, including the Packers, Patriots, Seahawks, and Broncos. He’s the first player in NFL history to pass for 1,500 yards and run for 300 in any five-game stretch.
He set a franchise single-game record with 442 passing yards last week and led the Ravens back from a 25-9 fourth-quarter deficit. He also rushed for 62 yards. Like the Ravens defense, the Chargers D is a mixed bag. They’re seventh in the league against the pass, but Jackson should find open room on the ground since Los Angeles ranks dead last against the run.
Jackson has probably felt like he needs to do it all himself since the offense has been hampered by injury. Guard Ben Cleveland was carted off on Monday night and became the 16th Raven that has spent time on injured reserve this season.
Tyre Phillips, who has been on IR with a knee injury suffered in the opening game, returned to practice on Saturday, and the team also activated receiver Myles Boykin from IR for Monday night’s game. So overall, things are trending in the right direction, injury-wise.
As is often the case when two prolific offenses meet, it often comes down to which defense can get one key stop. For your NFL picks, look for the Chargers’ superior pass defense to make Jackson more one-dimensional than usual.
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