Most years, a fine 12-4 record would be good enough for a conference championship and perhaps a first round bye. Unfortunately, the Chargers were in the same division as the #1 seed Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers actually split two games with the Chiefs with both teams winning on the road. The Chargers featured the 11th best offense and passing attack in the NFL. Veteran QB Philip Rivers led the offensive charge, completing 68.3% of his passes for 4,308 yards and 32 TDs with 12 interceptions. All-purpose back Melvin Gordon III was a great companion in the backfield, racking up a total of 1,375 yards and 14 TDs. The defense finished 9th in the NFL, giving up just over 333 YPG to opposing offenses.
The Baltimore Ravens found itself toiling out of the playoff picture at mid-season before winning 6 of its last 7 games to beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers for the NFC North conference title. The strength of this Ravens team was a defense that finished as the best in the NFL, giving up 292.9 YPG and 17.9 PPG (2nd best in league). While the defense was doing its thing, rookie QB Lamar Jackson took over the starting role at the same time the Ravens started winning games. QB Joe Flacco just wasn’t getting it done and Jackson brought a strong arm and the ability to run to an offense that needed energy. While Jackson only threw 6 TD passes in 7 starts, he rushed for almost 700 yards and 5 TDs.
Prediction: The Chargers have many ways to score and the Ravens will have to stop everyone of them. The Ravens will attempt to control the game with the run, a tactic it need to succeed at to keep the Chargers offense off the field. The problem is the offense could struggle to score. Play Chargers +2.5 (Final score Chargers 23-17)