Baltimore at San Diego Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers battle in week-three of the NFL season.

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at San Diego Chargers (0-2)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 4th meeting -- The Chargers lead the series, 2-1, but the Ravens won the last one, a 24-3 victory in Baltimore. That was during the Ravens' best year, when they won the Super Bowl, and it came during the Chargers worst year, when they went 1-15.
2003 RANKINGS: Ravens: offense 18th (1st rush, 32nd pass); defense 6th (7th rush, 11th pass). Chargers: offense 27th (19th rush, 24th pass); defense 29th (29th rush, 21st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Everyone in the stadium knows Ravens RB Jamal Lewis is going to get the ball. The question is if a Chargers defense that has allowed 328 yards in two games can do anything to stop him. San Diego will stack the line with eight defenders, and if Lewis is held in check, Ravens rookie QB Kyle Boller will have to step up against the Chargers' suspect secondary. WR David Boston is expected to play, which gives the Chargers' struggling offense a lift. Boston or no Boston, San Diego must improve on third down, where it has converted just four of 24 opportunities.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: The team is 18-2 under coach Brian Billick when it has a 100-yard rusher. ... WR Travis Taylor needs three receptions to pass TE Shannon Sharpe for the third-most in franchise history. Chargers: San Diego will wear classic uniforms from the 1960s with white helmets and Collegiate Blue jerseys. ... The teams is 3-0 when RB LaDainian Tomlinson scores at least two touchdowns.

PREDICTED SCORE: Chargers 17-13

   --TE Todd Heap should have a strong day Sunday with the Chargers stacking the box to stop running back Jamal Lewis. Heap is the most dependable receiver and will be moved around from tight end to receiver.
   --RB Jamal Lewis is expecting another big day against the Chargers and the fourth-worse run defense in the league. He needs 182 yards to break the league's two-game rushing record.
   --QB Kyle Boller practiced for the second consecutive day and did not complain of any stiffness in his knee. He said he "feels 100 percent."
   --CB Corey Fuller is no longer listed on the injury report after missing some practice time last week with a quadriceps pull. That means he will no longer be limited to passing situations and is expected to start.
   --LG Edwin Mulitalo did not practice for a second consecutive day and won't start Sunday. He will be replaced by Casey Rabach.

   -- TE Stephen Alexander (groin) didn't work again Thursday and won't play Sunday.
   -- WR Reche Caldwell (wrist) is out.
   -- TE Josh Norman (hamstring) is out. Youngsters Justin Peelle and Antonio Gates will have to take up the slack.
   -- WR David Boston (heel) worked again and appears to be a go.
   -- LB Donnie Edwards (groin) worked and will play Sunday.
   -- DE Marcellus Wiley (hamstring) practiced and will play Sunday.
   -- DT Dequincy Scott (ankle) is fine.
   -- FS Jerry Wilson (wrist) is fine.


   The Ravens hope arriving to San Diego early will translate into a quick start Sunday.
   The best way to beat the Chargers has been jumping out early and taking them out of their run-first game plan. In their first two games, winless San Diego allowed the Broncos to score on seven of their first eight possessions and Chiefs to score on five of their first eight the week before.
   The Ravens realize the importance of starting strong.
   "It's better playing ahead than from behind especially the way our team is set up with a good defense and a running game," center Mike Flynn said. "When we get down 14 points early, it effects what we do."
   The team has taken a training camp mentality since flying out to San Diego Wednesday, using most of their time to either practice or attend meetings. The players have just a few hours in the evening for free time and have a 9 p.m. curfew.
   "I think we can pull this off," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They got to be smart on their own time and I think they will."

   The Ravens' Jamal Lewis, fresh off rushing for an NFL record 295 yards last year, is expecting a mismatch come Sunday against the Chargers.
   The mismatch is Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson against the Ravens' defense.
   "I don't think it's a matchup," Lewis said. "(Ray Lewis) thrives on playing against so-called good running backs. He thrives on playing against running backs, that's his thing. It's going to be big and I think he is hyped about it, and he's geeked about it and he's ready to go. And I think the defense as a whole is."
   Has the trash talk has begun in earnest?
   "No, not really," Jamal Lewis said. "I'm not slamming LaDainian. He is a great running back, he is very shifty and he has had great accomplishments in the past. Right now, they might be struggling a little bit, but he's a good back.
   "But (he's) going against a great defense, now, come on. A ground attack, I don't know how much a role that plays against a great defense like ours."
   Tomlinson has an impressive 4.4-yard average, but he has only rushed 29 times. But he wouldn't trade talk with Jamal Lewis.
   "He can pop of at the mouth all he wants to," said Tomlinson, the NFL's second-leading rusher last year. "Some guys do that. As far as myself, I play the game out on the field and we'll see what happens on Sunday."

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