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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 12: Baltimore Ravens At San Diego Chargers

Ravens
Chargers
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner Joe Flacco has the ability to carry the Ravens’ offense. Head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t want him to be in that position very often, but he knows he can make all the throws needed to dominate any game. Flacco has size, strength and he is an accurate passer. He also throws one of the best deep balls in the league.
The Chargers have been unable to take charge in their division despite what appears to be a significant talent advantage and that is frustrating Philip Rivers. When Rivers is on his game, he can string touchdown passes together. However, he is easily thrown off when his receivers drop passes or his teammates commit penalties.
Offense
Winner Running back Ray Rice is one of the best players at his position in the league. While he is not the power runner like Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Rice packs a real punch when he initiates contact. He also has make-you-miss moves and is a solid receiver. Torrey Smith is a big threat as a downfield receiver while Anquan Boldin will usually hold on to any pass he can reach.
The Chargers have not been consistent on the ground this season and that has not helped their productivity. Ryan Mathews is not an elite back, but he runs hard and he does not go down easily. Malcolm Floyd is a solid receiver while tight end Antonio Gates appears to have slowed down quite a bit this season.
Defense
This is not the Ravens’ defense that most fans are used to seeing. The absence of Ray Lewis (torn labrum – out for season) is just one of the problems. The Ravens rank 28th in overall defense and that could cause problems against upper-level opponents. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is an excellent tackler and a big hitter. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is one of the NFL’s best interior linemen.
Winner The Chargers returned an interception for a touchdown against the Broncos, but their offense did not match their effort. The Chargers rank seventh in overall defense and that should be good enough, but they also tend to give up big plays at crucial moments. Safety Atari Bigby is aggressive and nasty while linebacker Donald Butler is a solid tackler.
Special Teams
Winner The Ravens have been the best team in the league to this point at punt return and kickoff return differential. Kickoff returner Jacoby Jones has been explosive with two touchdown returns. Justin Tucker has been sensational as a field goal kicker, making 17-of-18 attempts.
The Chargers are a below average team in kickoff and punt return differential and that will hurt in a game against the Ravens. Preventing Jones from making a big return may prove to be quite difficult. Nick Novak has been solid since taking over the placekicking chores from Nate Kaeding. Punter Mike Scifres has a huge leg.

The Winner Is

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Winner Ravens
3 out of 4

It’s pretty much over for the Chargers and the players seem to know it. Head coach Norv Turner will almost certainly be fired at the end of the season if there is no miracle run and Rivers is obviously frustrated. Going out to the west coast is difficult, but the Ravens should be able to handle their business against a troubled opponent.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 4: Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammate quarterback Joe Flacco #5 after scoring a second quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to throw a pass during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
    Week 14 Tale Of The Tape: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

    The Ravens and Patriots meet again in Gillette in what should be another great game.

  2. MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys hands the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott #21in the first half of the game agains the Minnesota Vikings on December 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants drops back to pass in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
    Week 14 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

    The NFC East rivals meet again in the Meadowlands as the Cowboys look to avenge their only loss of the year.

  3. SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 04: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes during warmups before a game against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field on December 4, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is pressured by Christian Covington #95 of the Houston Texans during the first half of a game at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
    Week 14 Tale Of The Tape: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

    The Seahawks travel to Lambeau for a match-up with the resurgent Pack.

See All Tales of the Tape

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