The Ravens (8-2) are coming into Sunday's game on a roll, having won seven of their last eight games.
The opposite is true for the San Diego Chargers (4-6), who have lost five of their last six and are currently on a two-game slide. The Chargers are quickly falling out of playoff contention and Head Coach Norv Turner's job is reportedly in jeopardy at the end of the season.
Despite the contrast, the Ravens aren't looking past their Week 12 foe.
"Really, we don't look at the record," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We don't really care, because it doesn't really mean anything for this game. If it had an impact on the game, then maybe we would look at it."
The Chargers have boasted one of the NFL's most explosive offenses in recent seasons, but their numbers are down this year. San Diego is in the bottom half of the league in just about every offensive category.
But the Chargers still have Pro Bowler Philip Rivers at quarterback, and the Ravens know from experience he can get hot in a hurry.
"You definitely can't overlook anybody; this team is dangerous," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "This team is very dangerous. They have a lot of weapons, and they have a very good offense."
Sunday's game at Qualcomm Stadium is an opportunity for the Ravens to maintain or possibly build upon their two-game lead in the AFC North ahead of next week's rematch with the Pittsburgh Steelers. A victory would give the Ravens the best start in franchise history and put them in prime position to make their fifth-straight postseason run.
Before they worry about the playoffs, however, Harbuagh reminded everyone that their strong start doesn't guarantee them anything in the final six weeks.
"[Our record] says we're guaranteed eight wins right now," Harbaugh said. "So, that means we're guaranteed to be 8-8. That's all it really means."
3 Matchups To Watch
S Ed Reed vs. QB Philip RiversThe Ravens are happy this matchup is still a possibility, as Reed almost had to miss this game because of a one-game suspension from the NFL. Now that the suspension has been overturned, the veteran safety will still be patrolling the Ravens secondary looking for errant passes from Rivers. The Chargers quarterback has been mistake prone at times and has 14 interceptions on the season. If Reed is able to get his hands on a few of Rivers' mistakes, then that could put the Ravens in good position to get a win.
RT Kelechi Osemele vs. OLB Jarret JohnsonJohnson, the Ravens' former "Iron Man," went to San Diego via free agency this offseason, and Sunday will be his first game against his old team. He will likely be matched up against rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele for most of the game. Johnson will certainly come into the game motivated and looking to make an impact against his former teammates, which could be a good test for Osemele to clear space in the running game and give Flacco time in the pocket.
QB Joe Flacco vs. LB Antwan BarnesIn last season's 34-14 loss to the Chargers, one of the problems for the Ravens offense was the pressure they allowed on Flacco. The Ravens gave up five sacks, including four to the former Raven Barnes. Keeping Flacco upright is a priority for an offense that is looking to find itself on the road, and limiting Barnes' production is key to that equation.
3 Questions To Answer
Do the Chargers play inspired football?The Chargers have their backs against the wall after another disappointing season, and a number of media outlets have suggested* *that Turner may not make it through the season. A loss to the Ravens on Sunday could seal his fate. However, if the Chargers play inspired football the rest of the season and make a run at a playoff spot, then Turner could end up salvaging his job. Sunday's game is big for Turner and the Chargers, and the performance of his team could go a long way in determining his future.
Are the Ravens able to run the ball?Running back Ray Rice struggled to get into a rhythm Sunday against the Steelers, collecting just 40 yards on 20 carries. The fifth-year back has just two games over the 100-yard mark this season, and he's facing another stout test in a Chargers run defense that ranks third best in the NFL. In the Ravens last two road games – wins over Cleveland and Pittsburgh – they committed to pounding the ball on the ground and they could try a similar approach against the Chargers. If Rice is able to find success, then that could open up the passing game for Flacco and allow the Ravens to take some shots down the field.
Are the Ravens able to force turnovers?Turnovers have been the Achilles heel for the Chargers, who have 22 giveaways on the season, the third most in the NFL. On the flip side, the Ravens defense has 21 takeaways, which ranks fifth in the NFL. The Ravens will look to continue that trend on Sunday.
RavensTotal Defense – 382.3 (25)
Rush Defense – 132.2 (27)
Pass Defense – 250.1 (23)
Points Allowed Per Game – 20.6 (9)
Total Offense – 338.7 (21)
Rush Offense – 99.1 (25)
Pass Offense – 239.6 (16)
Points Scored Per Game – 26.7 (7t)
Total Defense – 323.9 (8)
Rush Defense – 87.9 (3)
Pass Defense – 236.0 (19)
Points Allowed Per Game – 22.1 (13t)
Total Offense – 328.8 (23)
Rush Offense – 100.3 (22)
Pass Offense – 228.5 (17)
Points Scored Per Game – 23.2 (16)