Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 16)

The 8-6 Baltimore Ravens:

In the 8-6 Baltimore Ravens’ last five games, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has started, and the Ravens have won four times, including a Week 15 defeat of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-12.

Jackson not only helps the Ravens through the air but also on the ground – against the Bucs he completed 14-of-23 for 104 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions and was the second leading rusher with 18 carries for 95 yards, or 5.3 yards per carry.

Baltimore is shaky on the road, just 3-4 so far (1-1 with Jackson), but have a solid 6-3 record against conference rivals, and an upset of the Chargers seems unlikely, but with the new life Jackson has brought to the team, anything is possible.

The 11-3 Los Angeles Chargers:

After being down by two touchdowns with less than four minutes to play against their AFC West rivals, the first place Kansas City Chiefs, the 11-3 Los Angeles Chargers quickly scored twice and with four seconds left on the clock went for two points and converted, winning 29-28.

Chargers’ veteran quarterback Philip Rivers threw two interceptions against the Chiefs but completed 26-of-38 for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns, Rivers’ fifth 300+ yard game this season.

Los Angeles is 5-2 at StubHub Center, 8-2 against conference rivals and has fixed their sites on winning out the season and going into the playoffs as the number one seed instead of as a fifth seed AFC wild card.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 11 times, with Los Angeles winning 5 games and Baltimore winning 6 games. The Ravens won their last meeting in November of 2015 by a score of 29-26.

If the Ravens win this matchup, their record will be 9-6, they’ll continue to put pressure on the Pittsburgh Steelers, current leaders of the AFC North, and they’ll remain at the very least the AFC’s sixth seed in the playoffs.

But if the Chargers, who have already clinched at least an AFC playoff wild card spot, come out on top, they’ll be 12-3 and stay even (at least) with the Kansas City Chiefs, who right now have the same record but lead the AFC West (and therefore own the number one playoff seed) due to one less divisional loss.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 16 Ravens-Chargers matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Ravens and the Chargers and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Ravens offense ranked 11th in the NFL

Having Jackson as quarterback is like adding an additional running back, his speed and agility making him a constant threat to bolt, so far this season running 114 times for 566 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

Baltimore scores 24.4 points and moves the ball 369.6 yards per game with a rushing attack ranked 2nd and a passing attack ranked 20th.

Wide receiver Willie Sneed has 61 receptions for 626 yards, while receiver John Brown has 39 catches for 681 yards, averaging 17.5 yards per reception.

Ravens rushing attack 2nd best in the league

Baltimore moves the ball on the ground an average of 141.9 yards per game, running in 17 of their 37 total touchdowns, and only the Seattle Seahawks run for more yards per game (154.9).

Besides their leading rusher Jackson, the Ravens have Gus Edwards, who has run the ball 111 times for 55 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as Alex Collins, who has 114 rushes for 411 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Baltimore offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 16: tight end Nick Boyle (concussion).

Offensive guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) is listed as out in Week 16.

The 2018 Chargers offense ranked 6th overall

Rivers’ offense is highly productive, scoring 28.2 points and moving the ball 392.0 yards per game, both their rushing and passing attacks are ranked 12th.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen already has over a thousand reception yards (1,074) on 88 catches with 6 touchdowns.

38-year-old veteran tight end Antonio Gates, in his 16th season, has had a productive 2018 so far with 25 receptions for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per catch.

Los Angeles’s run game affected by injuries

Without injured running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler (see below), the rushing duties fall to Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome.

Against the Chiefs in Week 15, Jackson carried the  ball 16 times for 58 yards and a touchdown, while Newsome ran 6 times for 34 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Los Angeles offensive Injuries

Listed as out for Week 16: running back Melvin Gordon (knee-MCL), tight end Sean Culkin (back), tight end Hunter Henry (knee) and running back Austin Ekeler (neck).

Ravens Defense ranks first in the league

Baltimore currently has the best defense in the NFL, allowing opponents to score just 18.1 points and move the ball 290.2 total yards per game, both their run and pass defenses are ranked 3rd overall.

The Ravens are tied for 10th most sacks (39) but tied for 27th most interceptions (7) and their 14 forced fumbles are tied for 11th most in the league.

Ravens Defensive Players to watch:

Approaching 100 combined tackles for the season is Second-team All-Pro inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, currently with 91.

These three Baltimore outside linebackers – Matt Judon, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs –have 7.0 sacks apiece, 21 altogether.

Ravens defensive injuries

Linebacker Tim Williams (ankle) is listed as out for Week 16.

Chargers Defense is 8th overall

It’s no picnic to play against the Chargers’ defense, either, a squad that allows opponents to score just 21.3 points and gain 329.1 total yards per game with a 9th ranked run defense and an 8th ranked pass defense.

Los Angeles’ 12 interceptions have them ranked T-12th in that category, their 34 total sacks have them ranked T-19th but their 8 forced fumbles have them T-27th in a league of 32.  

Chargers Defensive Players to watch:

If a Raven is getting tackled, chances are it’s either free safety Derwin James, who has 93 combined tackles, or it’s outside linebacker Jatavis Brown, who has 87 of them.

Defensive end Melvin Ingram is the Chargers’ all-purpose defensive machine with 7.0 sacks to his name along with 16 quarterback hits, 39 combined tackles (8 for loss), 3 passes defended, an interception and a forced fumble.

Watch free safety James and defensive back Desmond King in the Chargers’ secondary, who have 3 interceptions apiece.

Chargers Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 16: defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (personal).

Linebacker Kyzir White (knee) is eligible to come off injured reserve but is unlikely to be activated.

Nose tackle Brandon Mebane (personal) is listed as out, but says he’s confident he will play in Saturday’s game against the Ravens.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Baltimore’s punter, Sam Koch, is a 12-year veteran who has punted 53 times for a net average of 40.0 yards per punt, ranked 15th in the NFL.

Los Angeles’s punter, Donnie Jones, a free agent pickup acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in October, has punted 35 times for a net average of 37.8 yards per punt, ranked 33rd in the NFL.

Placekickers:

Baltimore’s veteran All-Pro placekicker, Justin Tucker, has gone 28-for-30, his longest was a 56-yarder.

Tucker has missed one extra point attempt (33/34).

Los Angeles’s placekicker, Michael Badgley, a free agent pickup from the Indianapolis Colts in October, is 14-for-15, his longest has been the 59-yarder he kicked while going 4-for-4 against the Bengals in Week 14.

Badgley hast missed one extra point attempt (23/24).

Punt Returners:

Baltimore’s punt returner, Cyrus Jones, is ranked 5th in the league.

Jones has returned 16 kicks for 242 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per return, his longest being a 70-yard return for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in Week 12.

Los Angeles’s punt returner, cornerback Desmond King, is ranked 7th in the league in return average.

King has returned 21 punts for 285 yards, averaging 13.6 yards per return, his longest was a 73-yard return for a touchdown in Week 13 against the Steelers.

Ravens–Chargers prediction and odds

The odds makers have the Chargers favored over the Ravens by 4.5 with an over/under of 44.5.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Chargers 23, Ravens 13.

John Breech takes the over and predicts it Chargers 27, Ravens 17.