These teams met just a couple of weeks ago, and Baltimore got the better of the matchup in the Chargers’ building. Now the Chargers, being a 12-4 wild-card team, have to travel the length of the country for an early-window Sunday start and try to solve a Ravens running game that baffled them and everyone else over the second half of the season. Will it help the Chargers that they’re the first team to see this Lamar Jackson offense up close twice? Perhaps, and the road hasn’t bothered the Chargers, who posted big conference wins in Pittsburgh and Kansas City en route to their second playoff appearance in the past nine years. — Graziano
FPI win projection: LAC, 50.8 percent. When these two teams met in Los Angeles in Week 16, Philip Rivers had his worst Total QBR in a game this season (30.0). However, Rivers has been much better on the road this season, posting an 81.3 Total QBR (second best in the league) compared with 58.9 at home. Though the Ravens’ defense finished second in points allowed and first in yards allowed this season, it actually ranked seventh in defensive efficiency, according to FPI — below the fifth-ranked Chargers.
Matchup to watch:Rivers vs. Baltimore’s pressure packages. In the Ravens’ Week 16 win over the Chargers, the Baltimore defense racked up four sacks and eight quarterback hits on Rivers. And we know Baltimore is going to dress up the defensive front to manipulate protection schemes. It’s on Rivers to identify blitz situations and find open windows on second-level throws when Baltimore brings its five-man zone pressure. — Bowen
Betting nuggets: The Ravens have covered in seven straight playoff gamessince the 2011 season. And the total has gone under in all five of their home playoff games in Baltimore. — Nelson
Officiating scouting report: The Chargers (7.7 per game) and Ravens (8.3) ranked in the middle of the pack in total penalties, and the Chargers were called for the second-fewest total of defensive pass interference, illegal contact and defensive holding fouls (14) and the fewest offensive pass interference penalties (one). The Ravens, on the other hand, have been called for an NFL-high 10 offensive pass interference fouls. Referee Clete Blakeman’s crew threw eight offensive pass interference flags, tied for sixth most. — Seifer
Darren Woodson says the Chargers will be more prepared for Lamar Jackson in their AFC wild-card game, but Tedy Bruschi disagrees and picks the Ravens.
Eric D. Williams’ pick: The Chargers are 8-0 when boarding a plane for a game this season, including wins at Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Seattle, so they’ve played well on the road in hostile environments. The Bolts also did a decent job of handling Baltimore’s potent running game in the last matchup, limiting Jackson to a season-low 39 rushing yards. They should somewhat contain Baltimore’s explosive running plays and will do a better job protecting Rivers against a formidable Ravens defensive front. Also, Melvin Gordon is healthier and should be more effective running the football in the rematch. Chargers 24, Ravens 20
Jamison Hensley’s pick: John Harbaugh is 5-0 in the wild-card playoffs with the Ravens, who have outscored teams 144-56. That’s an average margin of 17.6 points. Considering the roll Jackson and the Ravens are on right now, expect that winning trend to continue. Ravens 20, Chargers 17
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