AFC Wild Card: Los Angeles Charges Vs Baltimore Ravens
After suffering a surprising loss to Baltimore in Week 16, Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers will look to both, avoid another upset – while exacting some revenge – when they visit Lamar Jackson and the red-hot Ravens in their AFC Wild Card clash on Sunday.
If you want to know whether Rivers and the Bolts are the pick to win and cash in at home or whether Jackson and the Ravens are the pick to duplicate their regular season feat against the Chargers, then let’s get to my expert NFL AFC Wild Card pick in the YouWager NFL sportsbook right now.
“The reality is, it’s one week at a time.”
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 3, 2019
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers suffered only one loss over their last six regular-season games – but that loss was a humbling 22-10 defeat that came in Week 16 against Baltimore – at home no less. Philip Rivers was limited to just 181 passing yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns that day. Los Angeles managed to bounce back to beat division rival Denver 23-9 in Week 17 and now they’ll look to beat Baltimore on the road after their surprising home loss to the red-hot Ravens two weeks ago.
This season, Rivers completed a scorching 68.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,380 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The veteran signal-caller knows the clock is ticking for him and the Chargers. After years of being a bridesmaid, he’s looking for nothing short of ending up as the actual bride this postseason. Sunday’s game will be just Rivers’ second playoff appearance since the 2009 season and the first in five seasons.
“When you’re younger you think this is it. You get a shot every year. Then when you don’t go once in the last nine or 10 years, you realize how fleeting it is and how hard it is to get in,” Rivers said on Wednesday. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I think from the experiences I’ve had, both positive and negative, you take that with what you can, and you just go play.”
Rivers is one of 13 players on the active roster with playoff experience and one of six remaining from the franchise’s previous appearance in the 2013 season. The Chargers average 26.8 points per game (6th) while allowing 20.6 points per contest defensively (8th).
Sitting at 4-5 after nine games, the Ravens were playing some decent, but certainly not great, football when rookie signal-caller Lamar Jackson took over for a then, injured Joe Flacco – and completely transformed Baltimore into a power rushing team that has a virtually unstoppable and completely unique quarterback leading the way.
“That prototypical this-is-what-the-quarterback-should-look-like, it ain’t there anymore,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “You look and see Russell Wilson is at one side and Cam Newton is on another side.”
Wilson is the 5-foot-11 quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Newton is the 6-foot-5 quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. Since the lightning-fast Jackson took over, the Ravens have won six of their last seven games and hit the playoffs riding a three-game winning streak that includes their previously aforementioned win over the Bolts in Week 16 and their season-ending 26-24 win over AFC North division rival Cleveland.
“We’re sitting in the draft meeting last spring and Lamar’s name came up,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “We just made the decision: Can he play quarterback for us? For me the answer was pretty easy. Absolutely. You build an offense like you build an offense for any quarterback.”
Baltimore has gone 4-0 SU at home with Jackson under center. The first-year pro is completing a modest 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,201 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, but he’s rushed for an additional 695 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry in seven starts. The Ravens average 24.3 points per game (13th) while leading the NFL in fewest points allowed (17.9 ppg).
Expert Pick and Prediction
While Baltimore basically dominated Los Angeles as a 4-point road dog two weeks ago in L.A. and will now get the chance to do the same at home as a slight, 2.5-point favorite, I’m going to advise you to roll with the 62 percent of public bettors that like Philip Rivers and the Chargers to get the ATS cover.
The Bolts have gone 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff road games, 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games in January, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 playoff games and a bankroll-boosting 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 road games.
While the Ravens have gone a perfect 7-0 ATS in their last seven playoff games and 5-0 ATS in their last five wild card games, Baltimore is also just 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games against a team with a winning road record and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games.
With the road team in this series going 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings and the u7nderdog going 5-1 ATS in the last six, I like Philip Rovers and the Chargers to get it done in a tight thriller!
Predicted Score: Los Angeles Charges 23 | Baltimore Ravens 20
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