Ravens vs. Chargers
at Qualcomm Stadium, 1 p.m. ET
The line: Ravens -1.
Series: Tied 4-4.
Last meeting: Ravens lost 34-14 on Dec. 18, 2011, in San Diego. They allowed seven sacks, 145 yards rushing by the Chargers and lost the turnover battle 2-0.
Burning question: The run defense has improved but the secondary just got thinner without CB Chris Johnson. Will it be able to hold up and force turnovers against QB Philip Rivers, who already has 18 interceptions and lost fumbles?
Keys to victory on offense: This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but QB Joe Flacco has to produce on the road for a team that is averaging less than 17 points per game there. He doesn’t connect with WR Torrey Smith as well away from home and the passing game tends to stall as Flacco has trouble capping drives with TDs. After the run game was stifled by the NFL’s No. 1 defense in Pittsburgh last week, re-establishing RBs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce has to be a top priority. If the Chargers are going to take away Smith on the outside, the running game must click.
Keys to victory on defense: Create a short field for a struggling offense by forcing turnovers. Rivers has 14 INTs and RB Ryan Mathews has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game this season. The offensive line also is suspect without at least two starters and there should be opportunities for a front that has had trouble getting pressure to get some push and open lanes for LBs Paul Kruger and Terrell Suggs to make plays. Rivers isn't Steelers QB Byron Leftwich.
Injury report: RAVENS -- Out: CB Jimmy Smith; Doubtful: CB Chris Johnson (hamstring); Questionable: DE Pernell McPhee (knee); Probable: WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), TE Dennis Pitta (head), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (shoulder), TE Ed Dickson (neck), LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe/thumbs), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), LB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder), G Marshal Yanda (ankle). CHARGERS -- Out: LB Larry English (calf), LT Jared Gaither (groin), WR Eddie Royal (hamstring); Doubtful: G Tyronne Green (hamstring), TE Dante Rosario (hamstring); Questionable: DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee); Probable: S Atari Bigby (shoulder), P Mike Scifres (ankle), G Louis Vasquez (ankle).
Prediction: Ravens 24-14.