The Baltimore Ravens just saw the AFC North open up for them, but they still have to handle business to take over the division and potentially the conference. A big game against the Los Angeles Chargers looms. If the Ravens want to fly back to Baltimore with a win, they must dominate these matchups.
3. The Baltimore Ravens run defense must shut down the Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers come into the game with one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL. They rank 31st in success rate and 26th in EPA per play. Between run defense and pass defense, you could say that the Ravens have had bigger losses in the run game. Still, this will be the worst rushing attack that the Ravens have faced.
The key matchup will be Will Clapp against Michael Pierce. Clapp is replacing Corey Linsley, the Chargers starting center, who has gone on IR. Linsley only played three games, so the sample is small, but the Chargers ranked 6th in success rate and 13th in EPA with Linsley on the field.
According to Sumer Sports, the Chargers pick up 0.14 EPA per play with Linsley and just 0.04 with Clapp. It has been noticeable.
Pierce is having a strong season but is starting to hit a wall as he is at a career-high snap rate. His 434 snaps this year are more than the 342 he played in the last three seasons combined. Does he have enough to take them home down the stretch? If he does not dominate this matchup, the Ravens have a problem. Fortunately, the Ravens also have Justin Madubuike, who is having a great year. The Chargers cannot find a ground game this week, and these two have to be the driving forces.