The Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) head across the country to take on the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) on Wild Card Weekend. Kickoff from M&T Bank Stadium is set for 10:05am PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers leads the Bolts into Baltimore fresh off one of the finest regular seasons of his career. In fact, number 17 tied his personal best with a 105.5 passer rating, doing so while completing 347 of 508 attempts (68.3 percent) for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns. Keenan Allen was once again his top target, pacing the team with 97 catches and 1,196 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Mike Williams emerged as one of the NFL’s most feared red-zone weapons, finishing with 11 total touchdowns (10 catches, one rush) while hauling in 43 passes for 664 yards. Tyrell Williams was also a big-play threat, catching 41 passes for 653 yards and five scores. On the ground, Melvin Gordon was a force to be reckoned with, pounding the rock 175 times for 885 yards (5.1 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. He was also a threat as a receiver, snaring 50 passes for 490 yards and another four scores. Austin Ekeler was equally effective, carrying the ball 106 times for 554 yards (5.2 ypc) and three touchdowns along with 39 receptions for 404 yards and three scores.
On Offense for the Ravens
Baltimore’s running game is operating at a near historic pace entering the postseason. In fact, in the six games since Lamar Jackson’s taken over at quarterback, the Ravens are averaging 229.5 rushing yards per game. They enter Sunday’s game fresh off a 296-yard performance on the ground in Week 17 vs. the Browns. The key to their offense is Jackson, who is the preeminent dual-threat QB in the league. The 21-year-old rookie has completed 99 of 170 attempts (58.2 percent) for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions for an 84.5 passer rating while toting the rock 147 times for 695 yards (4.7 ypc) and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, rookie running back Gus Edwards has punished opponents since he was elevated into a prominent role. He’s carried the ball 137 times for a team-high 718 yards (5.2 ypc) and two touchdowns. Finally, Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree and John Brown are Baltimore’s top pass catchers. Snead hauled in 62 passes on the year for 651 yards and one score while Crabtree had 54 receptions for 607 yards and five touchdowns. However, Brown led the team in receiving yards (715) and TDs (five) on 42 catches.
On Defense for the Chargers
Derwin James enters the postseason after posting the first 100-tackle season by a rookie in Chargers history. The Pro Bowl safety also paced the squad with 15 passes defensed while tying with Desmond King for the team lead with three interceptions. Meanwhile, Melvin Ingram was once again a terror getting to the QB, leading the Bolts with 7.0 sacks. He was followed by Joey Bosa (5.5) and Isaac Rochell (5.0).
On Defense for the Ravens
The league’s number one defense is as stingy as they come, led by C.J. Mosley, who continues to be a tackling machine as he leads the Ravens with 105 on the season. Baltimore boasts a ferocious pass rush, paced by Za’Darius Smith with 8.5 sacks. He’s followed closely by Terrell Suggs (the Ravens’ all-time leader with 132.5 sacks) and Matthew Judon. Baltimore also features a pair of grizzled vets at safety in Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, while cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith are tied for the team-lead with two picks each.
This marks the first ever postseason meeting between the two teams. The Ravens defeated the Chargers in Week 16 this year, 22-10, and own a 7-5-0 all-time record over the Bolts.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 11th in total offense (372.6 yards per game), 10th in passing (255.6 ypg), 15th in rushing (117.1 ypg) and sixth in points (26.8). The Ravens rank ninth in total offense (374.9 ypg), 22nd in passing (222.4 ypg), second in rushing (152.6 ypg) and 13th in points (24.3).
Defensively, the Bolts rank ninth in total defense (333.7 ypg), ninth in passing (227.9 ypg), ninth in rushing (105.8 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (20.6). Baltimore ranks first in total defense (292.8 ypg), fifth in passing (210.0 ypg), fourth in rushing (82.9 ypg) and second in points allowed (17.9).
Milestones on the Horizon
Antonio Gates needs 40 receiving yards to reach 504 for his postseason career and pass WR Vincent Jackson (503) for second in team postseason history.
Gates needs a touchdown catch to become the oldest tight end in NFL history with a postseason receiving touchdown (38 years, 202 days as of Jan. 6). Only Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice (40 years, 105 days; 40 years, 91 days; and 39 years, 91 days) has postseason receiving scores at an older age.
Keenan Allen needs two touchdown catches to reach four for his postseason career, which would tie him with Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner and Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow for the most in team postseason history.
Allen needs 137 more receiving yards to reach 300 for his postseason career, becoming the eighth player to do so in franchise postseason history.
Philip Rivers needs two touchdown passes to reach 13 postseason passing scores for his career, passing Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts (12) for the most in team postseason history. It would mark his fourth multi-touchdown postseason game, tying Fouts for the most in team postseason history.
Rivers needs three touchdown passes to record the third three-touchdown postseason game of his career, setting a record for the most in Chargers postseason history.
Noteworthy vs. the Ravens
Philip Rivers has faced the Ravens eight times, sporting a 98.4 rating against them. In those contests, he’s thrown for 2,193 yards while completing 67.1 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns to six interceptions.
Antonio Gates has played the Ravens nine times, catching 33 passes for 428 yards and two scores.
Keenan Allen hauled in a then career-high 11 catches for 121 yards and two scores in the 2014 win at Baltimore. Allen caught a 13-yard touchdown in the 2015 matchup.
Playing for Cleveland, Travis Benjamin caught six passes for 90 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown against the Ravens in the 2015, Week 12 contest. Benjamin has 18 career catches for 292 yards and averages 16.2 yards per reception against Baltimore.
Playing for Seattle, Brandon Mebane recorded his second career fumble recovery in the Week 16 matchup in 2007.
Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt coached tight ends for the Ravens from 1997-98.
Ravens S Eric Weddle was drafted by the Chargers in 2007, where he played for the Bolts for nine seasons (2007-15).
Ravens OL Coach Joe D'Alessandris served in the same role for the Chargers from 2013-15.
CBS – Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline) and Jay Feely (sideline)
KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across ten radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD-AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville) and KATY-FM (San Bernardino). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).