Defensive predictions for Ravens-Chargers

Defensive predictions for Ravens-Chargers
November 23, 2012, 3:30 pm
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Don't let the San Diego record and stats fool you. If everything works right, this is still a tough football team to play against. Yes, the offense has struggled, but the Chargers still have the pieces to do damage.

Here's a few things the defense needs to do to give the Ravens a shot at winning:

1. Stop Mr. Rivers -- The Ravens can't let Philip Rivers pick them to pieces like he did last year. Again, don't be fooled by the numbers and problems. Yes, he's got 17 TDs and 14 interceptions, not Pro Bowl-type numbers, but he still can tear a secondary apart. And the Ravens have a secondary that's been already eaten up by injuries. They need to get pressure on him, something they couldn't do last year. If Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger can get into the pocket and get Rivers off his spot, that will help. 

2. Get a good effort from the secondary -- This could be the most interesting point. The secondary's played much better the last few games but Byron Leftwich isn't Rivers. Carson Palmer did some damage, but the Raiders were throwing on every play, so those numbers are a bit off-balance. Rivers will test this group, no question. Still, Corey Graham, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Ed Reed and the others have been doing better the last few weeks. Can they pass this test?

3. Stop the run again -- The Chargers found enough success with the run last year to let Rivers keep a balanced attack. The Ravens' troubles stopping the run appear to be getting better. They slowed the Steelers and Raiders there, and there's been some improvement. If they can do that again this week, it will take away one of the Rivers' weapons. Shutting down the pass would be more important, but slowing the run would be a plus.