San Diego Chargers Shake Up AFC Playoff Picture with Win over Baltimore Ravens

Hugo OlguinContributor IIIDecember 18, 2011

Chargers QB Philip Rivers played a strong and smart game.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers played a strong and smart game.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers have not given up on the playoffs, dominating the Baltimore Ravens 34-14.

After losing six straight games and all but destroying any playoff hopes, the Chargers have won three straight and are within two games of first place in the AFC West.  

After watching both the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders lose their games, the Chargers have a chance to get back into the playoff hunt.  

Philip Rivers played a smart game throwing for 270 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. 

Interceptions have been a problem for Rivers having thrown 17 so far this season.  He looked fantastic, making great throws to Malcom Floyd when it counted. 

Chargers RB Ryan Matthews scored two touchdowns and played well, even though he did fumble the ball during the game. RB Mike Tolbert scored a touchdown for San Diego and averaged five yards per carry.

The Chargers defense did its job by making two interceptions off of Joe Flacco and sacking him seven times.  Chargers LB Antwan Barnes had four of those sacks on Flacco.  Ravens RB Ray Rice was a non-factor in the game and could not get any space to make big plays.  

The Ravens defense played awfully today.  The return of LB Ray Lewis did not factor into the game and the Chargers were able to run all over them and throw the ball without Rivers being pressured.  

The shocking stat is that San Diego got seven sacks while Baltimore had no sacks.

Ravens LB Terrell Suggs was neutralized and could not get pressure on Rivers.
Ravens LB Terrell Suggs was neutralized and could not get pressure on Rivers.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

With this loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers can take control of the AFC North and possibly lead the race for the top seed in the AFC.  

The Chargers still have some fight in them, while the Ravens look beaten up.  I have to give a lot of credit to the San Diego Chargers.  They looked like the great team that most people expected them to be.

They could be too late to the party, but if tonight's game is any barometer, San Diego is still fighting.

The Ravens need to shake this loss off as quickly as possible.  The focus has to be on their remaining opponents, as they are facing two division rivals in the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Neither game is going to be easy.  Both teams can strike and really put Baltimore in a bad state of mind going into the playoffs.  

We'll see if the Ravens can recover from this tough loss, and if San Diego can make a splash in the AFC West division race.