5 Things To Watch vs. Chargers


The push for a playoff spot continues this week at M&T Bank Stadium when the San Diego Chargers (7-4) come to town for a critical Week 13 matchup.

Both teams have their eyes set on a potential postseason bid, and this week's game will be critical in getting them to that point.

Here are some things to watch in the matchup:

Run Forsett, Run

Running back Justin Forsett has been the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in back-to-back games, and the Ravens plan to ride him down the stretch. The running  back seems to be getting stronger as the season goes along, and he's shown no signs of fading. The Ravens are coming off a game where they absolutely dominated the Saints on the ground and put up a season-high 215 rushing yards. The Chargers are 15th in the NFL at defending the run, so the Ravens may try to stick with the ground-and-pound approach this week.

Do Chargers Try To Run The Ball?

The strength of the Chargers offense is quarterback Phillip Rivers and the passing attack. The Chargers rank 27th in the NFL in rushing, and the Ravens have the fifth-best run defense. Those numbers suggest that the Chargers will likely try to move the ball through the air this week against a short-handed Ravens secondary. With how stout the Ravens have been against the run this season, the Chargers may not bother trying to establish the running game. Rivers has put up big numbers against the Ravens in the past, and the defense will need to keep him from connecting on big plays.

Make Defense Pay For Blitzing

A focus for the Ravens going into the bye week was figuring out how they could make teams pay for bringing the blitz. Whatever tweaks they made worked to perfection against the Saints. Quarterback Joe Flacco was stellar when the Saints brought pressure, completing 13-of-17 passing attempts for 222 yards and a touchdown. Flacco got rid of the ball quickly to his hot receivers when the Saints blitzed, and his targets were able to capitalize on one-on-one coverage. Flacco and the offense need to be able to handle the blitz again on Sunday.

Third-Down Conversions

When Head Coach John Harbaugh laid out the areas of improvement from his offense, one of the items was better success on third down. The Ravens stayed on the field Monday by converting 9-of-13 third downs. The offense will do some damage if they can consistently have that kind of success. A successful running game on the early downs put the Ravens in manageable yardage situations once they reached third down, and they capitalized by moving the chains. If they can continue that kind of success against the Chargers, then they will be difficult to stop.

Defensive Playmaking

The Ravens have been looking for someone to step up as a playmaker on the back end of the defense, and they may have found that person in Will Hill. The safety had a game-changing pick-six against the Saints, and he also limited All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham for much of the game. Hill will likely draw another tough matchup this week by having to defend veteran tight end Antonio Gates. The Ravens need playmakers on the back end of their defense, and they will be counting on Hill once again this week.

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