1. Can the Ravens pass rush shake Philip Rivers? Rivers is used to getting hit - he’s hardly the least sacked quarterback in the league. But Rivers thrives despite his line’s deficiencies and is still one of the league’s most productive and dangerous quarterbacks. If the Ravens can’t rattle him, he’ll be in the game until the end. That’s you we’re looking at, Terrell Suggs and Trevor Pryce.
2. Can Joe Flacco eliminate the mistakes? Big mistakes are not Flacco’s big weakness. He makes small mistakes - overthrows and missed receivers - that have small consequences. But against a good team, small mistakes can turn into big mistakes. Flacco can’t be flinging the ball around recklessly on this defense.
3. Can Michael Oher and Jared Gaither handle Shawne Merriman? Merriman was a non-factor last week in Oakland for the Chargers, but it was his first full game back from last season’s injury. If the Ravens expect to be able to pass the ball, they’ll have to protect against Merriman’s attack - and the youngsters on the corner will have to do it.
1. Todd Heap will outshine Antonion Gates. It’s not just that Heap is back in rhythm, but Joe Flacco clearly knows how to use the big man. Heap will make an impact for the second straight week and confirm what many in the league have feared: he is still one of the league’s most impressive tight ends.
2. Darren Sproles will not top 50 yards on the ground. If Sproles is going to change this game, it’s going to be receiving out of the backfield and on special teams. While the “thunder and lightning” tandems have trouble the Ravens in past, the defense can handle just speed - which is all Sproles has going for him.
3. Turnovers will rule. This game will be decided by mistakes - who makes more and when they make them. Neither the Ravens or Chargers have proved to be mistake-free yet (on offense or defense). But a big mistake or two will burn the losing team. Don’t think the Ravens can survive a blocked punt and 70-yard interception return this week.