Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers: What to Expect in This AFC Showdown

Hugo Olguin@@RealHugoOlguinContributor IIIDecember 18, 2011

Three straight 1000-yd seasons for Ray Rice.
Three straight 1000-yd seasons for Ray Rice.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Tonight's edition of NFL Sunday Night Football will feature the Baltimore Ravens, who are trying to win five straight games for the first time since 2006, and the San Diego Chargers, who desperately need a win to stay in the playoff picture.  

The Ravens have been playing good football lately after going through a rough patch earlier this season.  They are tied for the best record in the AFC and are trying to win the AFC North.  

Ravens RB Ray Rice is a big reason for the success in Baltimore.

Rice has now rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third straight season.  Rice has been the catalyst for the Ravens offense, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.

Even with these stats, Rice and QB Joe Flacco have not been consistent.  Flacco has had times where he could not move the offense down the field, which can hurt the team come playoff time.

Of course the Baltimore Ravens' defense has been the strength of the team this season.

LB Terrell Suggs has had a great season with 13 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. Suggs has had to step during the Ravens' four-game winning streak since LB Ray Lewis has been sidelined with a turf toe injury.  Ray Lewis is expected to make his return to the field tonight against the Chargers.

The San Diego Chargers are coming into this game with an outside chance of making the playoffs.  The Chargers are two games behind the Denver Broncos in the AFC West and two games behind in the wild-card race.

Philip Rivers needs to keep the mistakes to a minimum.
Philip Rivers needs to keep the mistakes to a minimum.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

This season has just been rough for San Diego. They have not played up to their potential with top players like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson.

it is interesting that the San Diego Chargers are 6-7 this season and both the offense and defense are ranked in the top 10 in the NFL.  

It comes down to being clutch at the end of games and not giving it away.  The Chargers are -7 when it comes to turnover differential.

The Ravens defense is going to put pressure on Rivers and probably stop the running attack of Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert.

I fully expect the Baltimore Ravens to have their way with the Chargers in this game.