2019 NFL Wildcard Playoff
The Chargers and Ravens are back at it again. Check out the 2019 Wildcard Playoff Preview for the game. (USA TODAY / VIA REUTERS)

The Los Angeles Chargers will travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in the third playoff game of the year. What’s funny is that these two teams played each other just weeks ago. Baltimore won that game 22-10 in Week 16. Vegas has started to buy into the Ravens and come into this game as 3 point favorites.

Despite having the better record, the Chargers will travel to Baltimore because the Ravens won the AFC South and LA did not win their division. It’s not like it matters anyway because the Chargers don’t have any fans, nor do they have a home field anyway. Who do you got? It’s time to preview the 2019 NFL Wildcard playoff preview between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens!

Los Angeles Chargers At Baltimore Ravens: 1:05 ET – CBS

2019 NFL Wildcard Playoff Preview
Philip Rivers needs a Super Bowl to cement his legacy (Clive Rose / Getty Images) Tom Krasovic


1: The Chargers Have Already Faced The Lamar Jackson Offense

Lamar Jackson is not winning games because he’s good. In 7 starts, Jackson has thrown for more than 200 yards just once. That game came against the Chargers oddly enough. Lamar Jackson is not winning games because he is good. Jackson is winning because he presents an offense that NFL teams have not seen since the 70’s. It’s a novelty that has a very short shelf life. Make the proper adjustments and slow the run game down and LA wins this game in a blowout. Here’s something you should really consider. The Lamar Jackson offense is averaging 19 more total yards per game compared to Joe Flacco. Considering Joe Flacco’s playoff success (because Flacco really doesn’t care during the regular season), the Ravens are probably making a mistake starting Jackson.

Where the Chargers can really take advantage of is creating turnovers. Jackson has fumbled 12 times this year! 12! Turn the ball over in this one and Baltimore is screwed because they can’t come back from behind. Jackson fumbled it once last game but they failed to recover. Jackson is going to make mistakes. The Chargers need to capitalize on it.

Speaking of falling behind. Lamar Jackson can’t throw. Do you trust a quarterback to win a playoff game who can’t throw? Jackson ranks 38th out of 39 qualified quarterbacks in adjusted completion percentage. Only Josh Allen ranks worse. Lamar Jackson can’t throw the football. If the Chargers can’t win then that’s on them.

2: Philip Rivers Is Just Due

Philip Rivers needs a Super Bowl to cement his legacy. Don’t you think he is tired of watching Eli Manning get credit despite the fact that he stinks. Manning has two rings. Ben Roethlisberger also has two. It’s time for Philip Rivers to get his. You might not believe in karma but I do. Rivers has been a model citizen. He has put up with terrible coaches, bad kickers, and awful rosters. I just found out this week that Rivers doesn’t even curse. He uses phrases like ‘Dang Gum’ when he’s blowing up on the sidelines.

Rivers this time probably has the best roster, better offensive weapons, and is by far the better quarterback. The team with the better quarterback always has the edge. No excuses this time. Rivers has a ton of help and even has two Pro Bowl edge rushers on his side.

3: We Are Forgetting How Good The Chargers Are

The LA Chargers just might have been the best team in the NFL this year. Don’t let that stupid 5 seed fool you. If the Chargers played in any other division, they would have a bye. This Chargers team went 12-4 last year. That’s with no home field advantage. They have been playing on the road all year. This roster is just too good. Point to any spot on the roster (outside of guard) this Chargers team has virtually no holes. The Chargers rank 3rd in the NFL in DVOA. LA is also 7-1 on the road. They thrive off of big opposing crowds. The Chargers have the better QB, RB, WR, TE (if Hunter Henry was actually back), Edge Rushers, Corners, and Safeties.

2019 NFL Wildcard Playoff Preview
CJ Mosley is the man in the middle for the Ravens defense and they destroyed Philip Rivers last time out (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)


1: Do You Trust Anthony Lynn To Make Adjustments?

Anthony Lynn has done a great job this year. No doubt. Baltimore has the coaching edge. The Ravens have actually outscored the Chargers despite having the far worse record. John Harbaugh is the better coach. He has squeezed every bit of talent out of this group. The Chargers always seem to leave a little more on the table. Harbaugh has won in the playoffs before with the worse roster. Anthony Lynn has zero experience.

At the end of the day do you trust a running back coach to make an adjustment to stop a running quarterback? I do not. Do you trust Gus Bradley to figure it out? I do not. The entire Ravens coaching staff has earned my trust in a big spot. The Chargers do not.

2: The Ravens Will Just Run It Down Their Throats…. Again

Since Lamar Jackson took over, Baltimore is running the ball 61 percent of the time. That’s by far the most of any team in the NFL. This Baltimore ground attack is dangerous and totally unpredictable. Baltimore is even running option plays! 61 of them since the Jackson tenure. The Ravens rushed for 159 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. More importantly, the Chargers only held the ball for 28 minutes during the entire game. The Ravens can repeat the formula and control the clock. The Chargers are built to attack the quarterback with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram but Baltimore is just a nightmare match up.

Lamar Jackson has 130 designed runs this year in 7 starts. That’s the most EVER for a quarterback over the course of an entire season. Jackson appeared in all 16 games but never really was on the field more than 3-5 snaps per game. Since Jackson took over as the starter, the Ravens quarterback has run on average 17 times per game. If Jackson were a running back, he would rank 4th in total rush attempts behind Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Joe Mixon. That’s absurd.

Either way, Baltimore has shown the past few games that they will run the ball. Gus Edwards is not getting enough love. You could realistically make the case that Edwards is the best rookie running back in the entire league. People just aren’t realizing it because he wasn’t drafted. The former Miami/Rutgers back is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Edwards is a 6-foot-1, 240-pound load who moves the sticks and is tough to bring down. Feed the Gus Bus.

3: The Ravens Defense Will Make Rivers Poop Himself… Again

Two weeks ago, Philip Rivers had a passer rating of 51 against this same Ravens team. That game was at home. This one is on the road and M&T Bank Stadium is going to be rocking. The biggest reason why Rivers pooped himself last time out was because Rivers was pressured on 55 percent of his drop backs. It’s the sole reason why Baltimore controlled the game. That includes 8 quarterback hits and 4 sacks. The way the Ravens have designed blitzes and stunts has made all the difference.

Rivers has to make big plays in this game and he flat out could not last time out. Rivers completed 3.6 yards per pass. If the Ravens defense can regress Rivers to a passing version of Jackson, then Baltimore will win this game again. The Ravens have the corners to play their man style on the outside. Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, and Brandon Carr have all been fantastic this year.

Wink Martindale has been a real success drawing up the defense. He’s brought back the zero blitz playing man on the outside and zero safeties in the secondary. It caused constant chaos. Terrell Suggs will get after the quarterback. That’s a given. CJ Mosley will be the best linebacker in the game. Don’t sleep on Zadarius Smith either.

At the end of the day, I’m taking the Ravens. I have too many bad memories of the Chargers coming up short in the playoffs. I like the way the Ravens defense is playing. Give me Harbaugh over Lynn every day of the week. I think the homefield matters for Baltimore. Lamar Jackson and the run game does enough to score points.

Ravens defeat Chargers 23-9