Chargers Offensive Matchup to Watch: LT Marcus McNeill vs. DE Terrell Suggs
McNeill is the top young pass protector in the game. He allowed only two sacks during his rookie season and has given up only three this year. He was recently voted to The Sporting News Midseason All-Pro Team. He will square off against Suggs, the Ravens' leading sacker (four). Suggs averaged 10 sacks per season from 2003-2006 and has 10 multi-sack games in his career. This is a crucial battle, as the Chargers figure to pass frequently against a defense that is money against the run.
Ravens Offensive Matchup to Watch: RB Willis McGahee vs. LB Shawne Merriman
Chargers Defensive Matchup to Watch: RT Marshal Yanda vs. LB Shaun Phillips
The Ravens have not officially announced that Yanda, a rookie, will start against the Chargers. However, offensive line coach Chris Foerster has told Yanda that he will play and that he should prepare for a possible starting assignment. Yanda would make his seventh career start against Phillips, who leads the Chargers with 5.5 sacks. Phillips has not recorded a sack since week six but now appears 100 percent recovered from the groin injury that hampered him midseason. Phillips has the quick first step and speed off the edge to abuse any rookie and will be expected to do exactly that.
Ravens Defensive Matchup to Watch: LB Ray Lewis vs. RB LaDainian Tomlinson
The Chargers will win if…they average more than 3.5 yards per carry. The onus will be on Philip Rivers to move the offense, but the running game must provide some semblance of balance to prevent Rivers from throwing into the teeth of an aggressive Ravens defense. Tomlinson has not topped 100 yards in four games and is overdue. If he can't deliver, Michael Turner is itching for some carries. He has not touched the ball in back-to-back games.
The Ravens will win if…they commit one turnover or less.
The Chargers will lose if…they give up points on turnovers or special teams. The Ravens have a dangerous kick returner in Yamon Figurs and a defense that assumes a scorer's mentality after a turnover. The Chargers' defense should be able to contain a bland Ravens offense, so it is crucial not to give up cheap points in other phases of the game.
The Ravens will lose if…they turn it over six times or allow six sacks.
Lombardo's Final Prediction: Ravens 26, Chargers 16
The difference between these teams is attitude. Both squads are struggling this season, but the Ravens still play with the swagger of an elite team while the Chargers mope around like a bunch of kids who just missed the ice-cream truck. This is a matter of coaching: the Ravens believe in Brian Billick, while the Chargers believe Norv Turner has submarined what should have been a special season. A loss on Sunday moves Turner one step closer to a one-and-done stay in San Diego.
Wilson's Final Prediction: Ravens 17, Chargers 13
Baltimore builds on last week's second-half resurgence and prevents an unprecedented five-game losing streak.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs. Ravens III
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