It’s been just two weeks since the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens battled in Week 16 of the regular season, but they’ll meet again Sunday afternoon in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.
The Chargers, who hosted the teams’ regular-season matchup, will travel to Baltimore for this weekend’s do-or-die AFC showdown at M&T Bank Stadium, and they’ll be looking to exact some revenge after falling to the Ravens 22-10 on Dec. 22.
NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian made their against-the-spread picks for each of this weekend’s NFL playoff games after an impressive regular season. Here are their Chargers vs. Ravens picks, along with the betting line courtesy of OddsShark.com.
Los Angeles Chargers at (-3) Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Mike: Chargers. This line would have seemed insane no more than five or six weeks ago, and despite the Chargers’ ugly Week 16 loss at home to the Ravens, it’s hard to not believe they’re still the better team. Keep in mind the Ravens got a lot of good fortune (some of it earned, yes) in that game, starting two of their scoring drives at midfield. That probably won’t happen again this week. The Chargers also showed they can slow down Lamar Jackson on the ground (39 yards), and if they can make him actually have to throw the ball, they should be in a good spot. Jackson’s adjusted completion percentage was the second-worst in the entire NFL among QBs with at least 170 attempts, and he was especially bad against the blitz, an area in which the Chargers have had some success.
Ricky: Chargers. The Chargers played awful in these teams’ Week 16 matchup. And they still had a chance to win late before the Ravens scooped and scored an Antonio Gates fumble. Expect a much cleaner, more efficient day offensively for Los Angeles, which ranks first in yards per play differential on the road. Meanwhile, the Chargers’ athletic defense should have its way with Jackson, who has fumbled 12 times this season, including at least once in his last eight games. The Chargers allowed just one offensive touchdown — a 68-yard pass to tight end Mark Andrews — in these teams’ previous clash, as the Ravens kicked three field goals and benefited immensely from their late defensive score. It’s not like the rookie signal-caller carved up Los Angeles’ D.
Andre: Chargers. The Chargers don’t really have a home advantage, so being on the road might be a good thing here. They finished 7-1 away from the StubHub Center this season and had some key wins on the road against the Steelers and Chiefs. Jackson and the Ravens were excellent on the ground over the last seven games, but six of their opponents were the Bengals (25th in rushing yards allowed per play), Raiders (22nd), Falcons (28th), Chiefs (31st), Buccaneers (20th) and Browns (24th). As Mike mentioned, the Chargers did a good job of limiting Jackson on the ground in the first meeting, and they should be able to learn more about his tendencies after having game film on him now. Philip Rivers must clean up his act, though. He has six interceptions over the last three games. That said, I trust the veteran more than Jackson, who will be making his first career playoff start.