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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Keys to the Game
The Chargers return to action Sunday afternoon when they host the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.
1. Protect the Football – Simply put, the Chargers haven’t done a decent job of this all season long. The team has turned the ball over 22 times, which is the third most in the league. The Ravens, meanwhile, have been quite prolific in creating turnovers, recording 11 interceptions and recovering 10 fumbles. Ball security will go a long way toward determining the outcome of Sunday’s game.
2. Protect Rivers – Just as important as ball security is giving Philip Rivers time in the pocket. The offensive line has struggled in this department, giving up the seventh most sacks (26) in the NFL this year. Keeping Rivers off the turf from the likes of Terrel Suggs and Haloti Ngata is going to be a huge difference maker for a Chargers win.
3. Dynamic Duo at WR – That’s what Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander have become since Alexander was elevated into a starting role three weeks ago. For the season, Floyd leads the team with 43 receptions for 639 yards and three touchdowns while, Alexander had five catches for a career-high 134 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago in Tampa Bay followed by seven catches for 96 yards and two scores against Denver. If the wide receiver duo can continue their strong play as bookends against a suspect Ravens secondary, it will help keep the Chargers offense rolling
4. Stop the Big Play – The Ravens offense is built around a number of big play weapons who can take it to the house every time they touch the ball. This is especially true of Ray Rice, one of the most explosive running backs in the league, as well as Torrey Smith, one of the most potent vertical threats in the game. The Chargers will look to eliminate these two players’ big play capabilities and eliminate the Ravens ability to capitalize on any quick strikes for scores..
5. Special Teams Stability – A pair of blocked punts in the last two games ended up playing a critical role in the Chargers dropping both contests. Against an excellent Ravens’ special teams unit, the Bolts need to be flawless in that area. After the special teams woes against the Broncos last weekend, Coach Turner declared the team must fix the mistakes they’ve been making on special teams. On Sunday they will have their first chance to show they’ve done that.