SNF: Baltimore at San Diego
Published on Dec. 17 at 6:06 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
Although it’s probably too late in terms of getting to the playoffs, San Diego (6-7 straight up, 4-9 against the spread) has responded to a six-game losing streak by winning back-to-back games in blowout fashion.
Norv Turner’s squad will try to keep its slim postseason hopes alive Sunday night when it hosts Baltimore (10-3 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) at Qualcomm Stadium on NBC at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
As of Saturday afternoon, most betting shops had the Ravens listed as 2 ½-point favorites with a total of 44 ½. Gamblers can take the Chargers to win outright for a plus-120 return (risk $100 to win $120).
During San Diego’s six-game slide, all but one of its defeats came by seven points or less. In other words, they were all one-possession games that could’ve gone either way. However, the Chargers were entirely too mistake-prone and perennial Pro-Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers was in the midst of a nightmare campaign, leading the NFL in interceptions with 17.
Those turnovers have disappeared over the last two weeks, though. Granted, San Diego was going against a pair of struggling squads in Jacksonville and Buffalo, but it was also dealing out woodshed treatment with Rivers returning to form.
The Bolts blasted Jacksonville by a 38-14 count as three-point road favorites on Monday Night Football two weeks ago, as Rivers completed 22-of-28 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns without a pick. Ryan Mathews rushed for 112 yards and one TD on just 13 carries.
Back at home last week, San Diego throttled Buffalo 37-10 as a seven-point home ‘chalk.’ The same recipe for success was in play again as Rivers wasn’t intercepted and Mathews eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground. The N.C. St. product threw for 240 yards and three scores, while Mathews gained 114 yards on 20 totes.
John Harbaugh’s team is gunning for its fifth straight win for the first time in more than five years. The Ravens failed to cover the number in last week’s 24-10 win over Indianapolis as 16 ½-point home favorites.
Bettors backing Baltimore suffered a back-breaking loss when Indy QB Dan Orlovsky found Jacob Tamme for a 13-yard scoring strike on the game’s final play. The TD pass gave the Colts the backdoor cover after trailing by 21 since midway through the third quarter.
Joe Flacco threw for 227 yards and a pair of TDs, while Ray Rice rushed for 103 yards and one TD. Terrell Suggs recorded three sacks to bring his season tally to 13, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
Baltimore remained unbeaten at home with the win over Indy, but it has been shaky on the road this year. The Ravens have lost three times as favorites at Tennessee, at Jacksonville and at Seattle in its only previous trip into the Pacific time zone.
San Diego has won four of its seven home games but is an abysmal 2-5 versus the number. The Chargers have been home underdogs just once, losing 45-38 to Green Bay as 5 ½-point puppies.
For the season, Rivers has 3,745 passing yards with a 22/17 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Mathews is nearing a 1,000-yard season with 943 rushing yards, four TDs and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates have 53 receptions apiece for 952 and 601 receiving yards, respectively. Jackson has eight TD grabs and Gates has six.
Flacco has 3,122 passing yards with a 15/9 TD-INT ratio. Rice has a team-high 62 receptions for 593 yards and a pair of touchdowns, in addition to his 1,029 rushing yards and 10 scores. Anquan Boldin has 55 catches for 836 yards and three TDs, while rookie Torrey Smith continues to emerge with 37 catches for 693 yards and team-high six TD grabs.
After missing four consecutive games with a toe injury, perennial Pro-Bowl LB Ray Lewis will return to the starting lineup Sunday night.
These teams met at this same venue two season ago with Baltimore capturing a 31-26 win as a one-point road underdog. Flacco threw a pair of TD passes to offset Rivers’ 436 passing yards.
The ‘over’ is 8-5 overall for the Ravens, 4-2 in their six road assignments. Meanwhile, the Bolts have watched the ‘under’ go 7-6 overall, 6-1 in their home games.