Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stars not aligned for Chargers in today's contest v. Ravens

The Ravens game against the Chargers is very star-studded but unfortunately for San Diego a few of their stars can’t or won’t shine very brightly in this contest.

Jamal Williams…OUT! That’s big. Williams oftentimes commands double teams. His absence allows the Ravens interior offensive linemen to get to the second level more efficiently or provide support on the edges against pass rushing stalwarts Shawn Merriman and Shaun Phillips. Of the two, Phillips is more dangerous right here and now. Against the Raiders Merriman didn’t look anything like the player he was prior to his knee injury.

Filling in for Williams will be an alternating pair of rookies, Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Vaughn Martin.

Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick…OUT! That’s big too because his replacement Scott Mruczkowski has just one NFL start and that was at guard. Mruczkowski will be asked to make line calls against a team that shows many different looks pre and post snap. Good luck there. Rookie starting right guard Louis Vasquez is a bit gimpy and he may give way to another rookie Brandyn Dombroski.

My guess is that the Chargers will go to a lot of no huddle to simplify those looks, limit the Ravens’ sub packages and try to wear down the Ravens’ defensive linemen.

Ladainian Tomlinson…OUT! This is another big loss despite the fact that LT isn’t the LT of old. He runs extremely well inside the tackles and today’s sit down represents the first time Tomlinson will miss a regular season game and only his second missed start overall. That puts more pressure on Darren Sproles and I just don’t see the Chargers giving him the rock more than 20 times if that much. The diminutive back has another 14+ games ahead and the Chargers will want to preserve their dynamic weapon.

That means the Ravens get to say hello to Michael Bennett. Bennett is a decent back who catches the ball well but he’s still not on par with an aging LT.

If the Chargers have a chance in this game, it will come down to Philip Rivers. He’ll need a stellar performance and he often provides that at Qualcomm Stadium where he holds a 22-5 record (although 3 of those losses were in 2008).

So with that in mind, here’s what I expect to see today…

· Terrell Suggs will remind Marcus McNeill that he’s got a sore ankle as he “o-lays” Suggs on his way to Rivers.
· The Ravens interior defensive line will be a nightmare for the Chargers. Expect big games from Ngata and Pryce.
· As mentioned, no huddle offense from the Chargers and many 3 stop drop plays from Rivers. Don’t be shocked to see Jarret Johnson banging on receivers at the line of scrimmage. The Ravens have done that in the past with big play receivers like Vincent Jackson.
· Play action from the Ravens on first down looking for Heap. The Chargers have struggled defending tight ends and their linebackers will be geared to support the run with their ailing front.
· Flacco has done well on the road with a 90+ QB rating and he’s handled the pressures of a big time road game. He’ll hurt a suspect Chargers secondary.
· The only way the Ravens lose this game is if they lose the turnover battle by -2 or more.

The Bolts don’t have enough juice in this one…call it Ravens 23 Chargers 17 after they pull it closer with a late score.


Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 9 21 09
Well.. Hind sight is 20 20 but you were darn close on the point differential.. you had the Ravens by 6 ....23 17 and they won by 31-26... I'll take it. But Give me a blow-out win next I'm not sitting on the edge of my seat in the 4th Quarter.