The Ravens (8-2) fly to San Diego this weekend to play the Chargers in a 4:00 game (EST, Sunday, Nov.25)...and even though the Chargers are 4-6, they are being picked by a lot of media "experts" to beat the Ravens.
This is because Baltimore has a history of playing their worst games against San Diego in Qualcomm stadium. Maybe it's the "Curse ofJohnny Unitas", who was traded away from the old Baltimore Colts to spend his last season with a terrible San Diego franchise at the time.
But the trend is undeniable--- the Ravens were embarrassed by the Chargers last year for virtually no good reason. Maybe it's just a weird matchup matrix between these two teams.
San Diego is coming off a 30-23 loss to the Denver Broncos while Baltimore beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10.
San Diego has a 4-4 record all-time against Baltimore which includes a 34-14 win during the 2011 NFL season. San Diego is also 4-2 all-time at home against the Ravens.
Baltimore gives up 4.0 yards per rushing attempt which ranks 11th in the NFL while they surrender 7.0 yards per pass attempt which ranks 16th in the league.
San Diego gives up 3.8 yards per rushing attempt which ranks sixth in the league while they rank 15th in yards per pass attempt.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while he ranks 13th in the NFL in QB rating. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions while he ranks 14th in QB rating.
San Diego is 0-5 this season against teams with a QB who has an above average QB rating right now.
Baltimore averages 26.7 points per game which ranks seventh in the NFL while San Diego ranks 16th in this category with an average of 23.2 points per game.
Baltimore gives up 20.6 points per game which ranks ninth in fewest points per game allowed while San Diego ranks 13th in this category because they surrender 22.1 points per game.
But none of these comparative stats seem to ever figure into the final score when the Ravens visit San Diego.
Baltimore's only loss from Nov. 13 through Jan. 21 of last season was a 34-14 disaster in San Diego. In that game, Rivers went 17 for 23 for 270 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
"He sliced us and diced us last year,'' coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs added, "It wasn't that pleasant. Before I could look up it was 31-7. It was like raining touchdowns out there. He's a good quarterback.''
In his last three starts against Baltimore, Rivers has won twice while going a combined 67 for 103 for 955 yards and six touchdowns with only three interceptions.
It's obvious the Ravens (8-2) need all the firepower they can get against the fearless nine-year veteran Sunday in San Diego. Fortunately, Baltimore won't have to face Rivers without free safety Ed Reed as the last line of defense.
Reed, an eight-time Pro Bowl star, was suspended for one game on Monday for repeated helmet-to-helmet hits. He appealed the suspension, and on Tuesday the punishment was reduced to a $50,000 fine.
"It probably would have been a pretty good break for us, but I thought the suspension was ridiculous,'' said San Diego linebacker Jarret Johnson, who played with Reed in Baltimore for nine seasons.
Reed's current teammates weren't too crazy about the ruling, even in its reduced form following the appeal.
"You don't win those (appeals) often,'' strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "They still took 50k from him. But he's able to suit up and play. We're excited about that. We get one of our 11 back.''
Suggs said: "It's good to know (the rules are) not carved in stone and that they treat every case differently. We all know what type of player Ed Reed is, and there's not one player in this NFL who would call Ed Reed a dirty player - except for maybe the guys he hit. It was not intentional. It was a football play.''
The Chargers (4-6) have struggled this season, but the circumstances are not unlike last season, when Baltimore came in with a four-game winning streak before being embarrassed by Rivers and the prolific San Diego offense.
"It will be a big challenge. He's a great player,'' Harbaugh said. "Between the quarterback and their receivers, maybe they're the most talented passing group in the league.''
Said Pollard: "This is a team that's so much better than their record. Phillip Rivers is probably one of most competitive quarterbacks in the National Football League. That offense is explosive, so I just really think we have to have a great week of preparation.''
Pollard played against Rivers as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans before coming to Baltimore last year. In each instances, Rivers excelled.
"This dude is competitive. I like it, I really do,'' Pollard said. "We've got to shut him up.''
San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs