It was just two weeks ago when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Los Angeles Chargers in a 22-10 dogfight. And now, they will face for the second time in one month. Though, this time, the stakes are much higher. Two teams in their championship window, both with important, aging players and fanbases itching for a shot at the Lombardi trophy.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers now sits at 37 years old and likely only has two or three years left in his NFL career. And barring any Patrick Mahomes-like development, it will likely be three or four years before their next quarterback would be ready to compete for a Super Bowl. This season could very well be their best chance at the Lombardi, a trophy that has forever evaded their franchise.

And for the Ravens, although they have the young, exciting quarterback in Lamar Jackson, their defense, (which currently ranks first in the league), has some very important pieces entering the senior stages of their career. Terrell Suggs, a former Defensive Player of The Year and future Hall of Famer, is still the teams best pass rusher and arguably their best player. But he is also 36 years old. The former Ball So Hard University attendant can only play for so long. Then there’s Eric Weddle, a former All-Pro safety who at 34 years old, is already one of the slowest safeties in the league and can likely only keep up for one or two more seasons. That’s two major leaders of the team that will be exiting in the next few years.

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Philip Rivers: Despite having an MVP caliber season, Philip Rivers has thrown six interceptions in his last three games including two on opening drives. And that was what set the tone the last time the Ravens visited the Chargers. Rivers early, forced throws tend to deflate energy out of Los Angeles as well as inflate the opponents’ confidence. In order to have a chance versus a stingy Ravens defense, Los Angeles is going to need early season Rivers. the Rivers that let the game come to him and didn’t force throws down the field. the Rivers that completed 25 straight passes. The Rivers that had time to impregnate his wife because of all the victory Monday’s they had. The Rivers that led the Chargers to nine wins in 10 weeks.

And this game isn’t only important for the Chargers. If Rivers, (who the media has always had a warm hart for because of the situations he has been put in throughout his career), takes a 12-4 team to the playoffs and then lays a dud in the wildcard round, his legacy will take a severe hit. Ultimately, this is his best chance to show that he has the tools and the grit to win in the playoffs and give his team a chance at the title.

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I understand that it was only three weeks ago the Ravens manhandled the Chargers. But it’s very hard for me to see this unique Baltimore team beating Los Angeles twice in one month. The Chargers defense has looked great lately and even in their matchup versus the Ravens, they only allowed 16 points and just one touchdown. They were able to keep Lamar’s running game in check and aside from one 68-yard play, they were able to do the same with the passing game. The only fascet they struggled with was Gus Edwards, who rushed for 93 yards. Yet he was unable to find the end zone so his impact wasn’t too much of a nuisance.

And late in the fourth quarter, the Chargers had a chance to finish the game off despite a poor offensive performance. Had it not been for an Antonio Gates fumble with under three minutes left to play, the Chargers would have likely gone on to win that game. It’s also noteworthy that in that first matchup, Los Angeles was without Austin Ekeler who provides a big spark from them offensively. So basically, if the Chargers offense is able to put together even a few solid drives early and get some points up, it could very well lead to a flustered Lamar Jackson. And as you can probably assume, a flustered rookie in a playoff atmosphere does not bode well. The Ravens best chance is to perfectly execute what their performance from week 16. Force Rivers into early errors and give the offense as short of a field as possible to work with. However, seeing how extremely tough that will be, I’m going to take the Chargers in Baltimore for a game that (luckily for the Chargers) will not have any hindrance by the weather.

Chargers – 24, Ravens – 14

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