Ravens vs Chargers – NFL Picks and Parlays 12/22/18
Both the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens look like teams that will be in the playoffs this season. But only one of them can win this game, which could very well be a matchup that takes place in January to help decide who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
The red-hot Chargers are 4-point favorites at MyBookie as they are at home against the Ravens in this possible playoff preview.
The Ravens are 27th in the NFL, averaging 5.2 yards per play. At this point, you know what you are getting from the Ravens offense, and that is a heavy dose of the running game. The only question is whether the run is going to come from Lamar Jackson or one of their running backs on a given play.
Their running game is tied for 15th in the league, gaining an average of 4.3 yards per carry on the season. Interesting to note is that since Jackson took over as quarterback is the fact that the Ravens have played five of the worst run defenses in the league. They won’t have that luxury in this game, which should really hold a magnifying glass to the entire Baltimore offense.
Baltimore struggles to move the ball through the air, averaging a 26th-ranked 6.3 yards per pass attempt. Since becoming the quarterback in Baltimore, Jackson has completed 58.9% of his passes. To put that into context, that is the same success rate as NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s field goal percentage, which is not great for an NFL quarterback.
Defense is the area where the Ravens really shine, though, as they give up a league-best 4.7 yards per play. They’ve given up more than 27 points just twice this season, once on a Thursday night road game at the Bengals, and once on the road against the Carolina Panthers. So there is precedent of the Ravens struggling defensively on the road this season, which is where they will be for this game.
The Baltimore run defense is ranked fourth in the NFL, allowing 3.8 yards per carry to opposing rushers. And the pass defense for the Ravens is ranked number one, allowing a measly 5.7 yards per pass attempt. They will have their hands full against a Chargers offense led by Philip Rivers, an offense that is starting to get healthy in key spots again.
Working in Baltimore’s favor right now is the fact that they are one of the healthier teams in the league. Their injury report is void of any key players at the moment, which will benefit them down the stretch this season.
Chargers Week 16 Outlook
The Chargers are ranked second in the league in yards per play, moving the ball for 6.6 yards per play. Philip Rivers, who is averaging 6.6 children per play this season, would be in the MVP discussion in any other year, but has been forgotten about thanks to the incredible years of guys like Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees.
On the ground, the Chargers are tied for fourth in the league, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. And the Chargers are finally getting Melvin Gordon back, or at least are expected to for this game. Gordon has averaged 5.2 yards per carry this season and is a great target out of the backfield for Rivers as well. His return to the lineup is huge for the Chargers and their playoff push.
Los Angeles’ passing attack has solidified itself as the best in LA, averaging a second-ranked 8.4 yards per attempt through the air. It will be interesting to see if they can generate big plays downfield the way they have so often this season against the best defense in the league.
Defensively, the Chargers are tied for 10th in the league, giving up an average of 5.4 yards per play. This is an underrated defense, that is putting up top-10 numbers despite only having star pass rusher Joey Bosa for the last few weeks. Expect them to make Lamar Jackson run for his life even more than he does on his own in this game.
The Bolts are tied for 12th against the run, allowing 4.3 yards per carry, and they will need to stop the run against a team that loves to move the ball on the ground. Anthony Lynn’s team gives up 6.6 yards per attempt through the air, putting them in a tie for eighth in the NFL.
The Chargers could still end up with a division title and a first round bye if they continue to pile up wins, and should be extremely motivated in this game as a result. They have also had an extra few days to prepare for this game after playing on Thursday last week in their wild win over the Chiefs.
Ravens vs. Chargers Trends
The Ravens are 8-6 straight up this season and 7-7 against the spread. Baltimore has been strong on the road as of late, going 7-3-1 against the spread in their last 11 road games. But the Ravens haven’t been getting the job done against teams with winning records, going just 1-4 in their last five games against teams that are above .500. They are hoping that the Lamar Jackson effect continues to work in their favor, as the Ravens are 6-1-1 against the spread in their last eight games after gaining 150 or more yards on the ground in their previous contest.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, is 11-3 this season and 8-6 against the spread. Saturday night games have not worked out well for the Chargers, as they have gone 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 Saturday games. But the Chargers have gone 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games against teams with winning records, and are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven total games as well.
The Los Angeles Chargers are the hottest team in football right now, even if the Ravens have ripped off a bunch of wins against suspect teams over the last few weeks. And without a great home field advantage, the line for this game isn’t too heavily inflated by the Chargers being at home.
Expect the returning Melvin Gordon to play a role in this game, while the Chargers pass rush gives Lamar Jackson his first real taste of NFL defense, as the Bolts roll.
Bet the Chargers -4 (-110)
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