By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens (8-2) need to be focused as they enter Week 12 of the NFL Season. Baltimore is coming off a big win against division rival Pittsburgh and will face them again in Week 13. Sandwiched between the Steelers games rests an inconsistent San Diego Chargers (4-6) squad who still holds slim playoff hopes. If the Ravens hope to keep pace with the Houston Texans (9-1) for the coveted number 1 seed, they can not overlook the Chargers.
That may not be too difficult a task as the Ravens still remember being embarrassed by the Chargers last year 34-14 on Monday Night Football. Vincent Jackson, who is no longer with the team, embarrassed the Ravens cornerbacks on national television. The Ravens were in control of their own destiny entering that matchup and looked to be heading for a No. 1 seed when they lost a match that they probably should have won. They’ll face a similar situation in this game.
The Ravens’ offense has faltered on the road so far this season. It appears the best way to solve that problem is with a large dose of Ray Rice in enemy territory. If the Ravens want to succeed, they’ll have to accomplish this against the 3rd rank rush defense of the San Diego Chargers. Ray Rice may not get the yards he desires in this contest, but the Ravens will be more concerned with the touches as it will keep their defense honest. Cam Cameron has done a great job of sticking with the run, especially on Sunday. It would have been easy for him to forget the run all together as Rice was only averaging 2 yards a carry. But Cameron stuck with it and Baltimore found a way to win. He’ll most likely put in a similar situation on Sunday against the Chargers. It’ll be interesting to see what approach he takes.
Last year, the Ravens were harassed by the Chargers defense. Flacco was sacked 6 times and was harassed a lot more by a front 7 that simply bullied the Ravens offensive line. If Baltimore wants to win this game, they’ll have to do a better job up front. If given time, Flacco can get the ball down field to his speedy receivers. Torrey Smith should have an easier time in this game against a Chargers secondary with plenty of holes. The Ravens didn’t score a single point on offense last week. If they duplicate their performance, they will lose on Sunday.
Defensively, the Ravens will have their hands full with Phillip Rivers. Considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, Rivers can get hot at anytime. If he gets open receivers down field, he’ll take the shot. The secondary will need to cover both Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd as both players get targeted plenty of times in ballgames. They’ll have to get this done without Jimmy Smith, who has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
This week in practice, Baltimore will focus on getting consistent pressure on Rivers. Baltimore has done a great job in recent weeks of getting to the opposing quarterback. If Baltimore can get to Rivers, he is prone to make mistakes.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.