The Ravens (8-3) will face the Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) at 8:20 p.m. Sunday in Inglewood, California. Here are predictions from The Baltimore Banner’s sports staff.
Kyle Goon, columnist
This feels like a last gasp for the Chargers that could go one of two ways. They’ve taken a bunch of dispiriting, close losses and built up frustration that could break them. Or they could fight for their season tooth and nail. It might be too late for coach Brandon Staley with his team in fourth in the division, but here’s guessing the Chargers are going to try to reclaim a modicum of pride in prime time.
I would imagine the Ravens and their versatile attack not having many issues against a Chargers defense that hasn’t put up much resistance. But one factor that has made Baltimore stumble is turnovers — Justin Herbert and his offense barely ever turn the ball over, so if Lamar Jackson and his group cough up a few turnovers, it’s going to be hard for the Ravens’ defense to get the ball back. But Herbert will definitely find himself under onslaught from the Ravens’ pass rush. If Baltimore takes care of the ball, it shouldn’t be that close.
Ravens 37, Chargers 23
Jonas Shaffer, reporter
Outside of special teams, I’m not sure the Chargers have a clear advantage at any position. Justin Herbert is a supremely talented quarterback, but he’s playing behind a leaky offensive line, throwing to an injury-depleted receiving corps and handing the ball off to a diminished Austin Ekeler. The defense is a mess, too, ravaged all season by dumb penalties and explosive plays. Even worse, the Ravens are just the kind of high-efficiency offense the Chargers have struggled with this season.
And yet: They’ve lost just one game by more than three points and that happened to be in Kansas City, in front of Taylor Swift. It’s understandable. Chargers coach Brandon Staley is reaching the end of his rope in Los Angeles, but this is a prime-time game. No one’s rolling over.
Ravens 27, Chargers 24
Giana Han, reporter
The Ravens have an incredibly hard test the rest of the way without Mark Andrews. The Chargers have a challenge in overcoming linebacker Joey Bosa’s injury. It’s that time of year. Teams are beat up and worn down. That was apparent in the Ravens’ last game, but they also have the benefit of a restful weekend thanks to their Thursday night game.
In recent matchups, the Chargers have fallen just short over and over. After this last three-point loss to Green Bay, players were fed up and said things have to change. They’ll probably be juiced up, determined to right the ship. Sure, the Ravens haven’t been good in the fourth quarter, but I’m still not sure they’re the team to do that against. Especially because the Ravens have been putting up at least 30 points recently, and the Chargers have been allowing teams to have their best offensive performances. If the Ravens tighten the defense and the offense builds on the momentum it has found, even without Andrews, I think the Ravens head into the bye victorious.
Ravens 31, Chargers 17
Chris Korman, editor
Not something I immediately noticed when the Ravens’ schedule was released, but having a Thursday night game rolling into Thanksgiving week will probably work out nicely. Especially because the Ravens follow this game in L.A. with a bye. Oh, and also the Ravens, unlike the Chargers, are not enveloped in drama that will likely end with their head coach being fired.
So, yeah. Things are looking up for Baltimore. Of course, we felt that way going into games against Indy and Pittsburgh, and look how that turned out. But I’m not seeing much of a path for the Chargers to contain the Ravens without Joey Bosa. Assuming Odell Beckham Jr. is in fact healthy after taking that heavy hit against the Bengals, I’d expect him to have a big game as Todd Monken adjusts his offense to compensate for the absence of Mark Andrews. That’s a huge loss, obviously, but let’s be thankful there’s a truly creative mind designing the offense. I’m actually excited to see how Monken tries to solve this problem.
Ravens 35, Chargers 17
Brandon Weigel, editor
The Chargers are something of an enigma. The one thing they seem to do well is come up just short in close games. Justin Herbert is thought to be everything a team could want in a quarterback, and somehow he’s a game below .500 in four years with Los Angeles. The defense has absolute studs in edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, and safety Derwin James Jr., and yet this season the unit has allowed 393.6 yards per game (second worst in the NFL), of which 291.6 has come through the air (worst in the league).
The loss of Bosa, who was placed on injured reserve with a right ankle sprain, only makes this defense more vulnerable. As the Ravens prepare for life without tight end Mark Andrews, one of Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets, the wide receivers will have a great opportunity to show who can carry the load.
Los Angeles will put up points, and maybe the game will even be close at times, but the Chargers won’t do enough to lift the hex off coach Brandon Staley.
Ravens 33, Chargers 24