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Los Angeles Chargers-Baltimore Ravens NFL Week 6 Preview

Week 6 of the NFL season is upon us, featuring a number of must-watch games. The undefeated Arizona Cardinals visit the 3-2 Cleveland Browns in what could be the matchup that topples the final undefeated team. Meanwhile, on Monday Night Football, the 4-1 Buffalo Bills visit the 3-2 Tennessee Titans for a potential playoff showdown.

However, potentially the best game of the week is the Los Angeles Chargers traveling to face the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers are 4-1, sitting on top of the AFC West. Prior to the 2021 season, very few people expected them to even challenge the Kansas City Chiefs for the top spot, let alone hold it. However, as the Chiefs continue to struggle, and Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert continues to play like an MVP candidate, the tides have shifted. The Baltimore Ravens are in a similar position. At 4-1, they now hold the top spot in the AFC North. However, the Ravens leading the North is far less surprising. Aside from that, are there any interesting storylines in this game? What are some interesting matchups to watch? This is the Chargers-Ravens NFL Week 6 preview.

The MVP Candidates Throw Down

Likely the most intriguing storyline and matchup of the day will be the Justin Herbert-Lamar Jackson battle. Justin Herbert has been electric for the Chargers. Through five starts, Herbert has 1,576 passing yards with 13 touchdowns to three interceptions. His quarterback rating is a stellar 104.7 on the season. On top of that, Herbert has 19 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. Herbert has been the engine for the Chargers, who have the third best passing offense in the league.

Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson has been making his own case for winning another MVP award. Jackson is not far behind Herbert in the passing game, throwing for 1,519 yards with 8 touchdowns to three interceptions. With a quarterback rating of 104.4, Jackson is only .3 behind Herbert in this category. However, Jackson surpasses Herbert with his impact in the running game. On 56 attempts, Jackson has 341 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Thanks to Jackson’s hero play, the Ravens offense now leads the league in total offensive yards, with 440.6 average yards per game.

The difference between these two potential MVPs is that Herbert is more of a pure passer, while Jackson can make an impact in both facets of the offense. Herbert can torch any defense with his cannon of an arm, while Jackson can exploit a defense through the air or on the ground. It will be interesting to see how these two fare against each other.

Interesting Matchups

The most interesting matchup in this game is the aforementioned Herbert-Jackson showdown. That said, here are some other interesting matchups to keep an eye on.

Chargers Receivers vs. Ravens Cornerbacks

Keenan Allen (middle) has been silently playing great this season, providing stability and reliability to a talented Chargers receiving core. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Keenan Allen is one of the best receivers in the NFL. There, I said it. His route running is only matched by Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams, and Allen’s good hands and explosive speed make him a man coverage nightmare. Though his production has been overshadowed by Mike Williams’s breakout season (34 receptions, 369 yards, one touchdown), Allen has been a great complement and will continue to be a reliable target for Herbert. Meanwhile, Williams continues his tear as he quickly became Herbert’s favorite target. With 31 receptions, 471 yards and six touchdowns in five games, Williams has been playing like an elite receiver against talented opposition.

And now the Chargers receivers face off against a pair of talented Ravens secondary. Though he has been having a relatively quiet year, cornerback Marlon Humphrey has been having a solid year, with 25 tackles (19 solo) and four passes deflected. However, his running mate, Anthony Averett, has been having a strong season so far. With 25 tackles (20 solo), four passes deflected and two interceptions, Averett has been doing his part to shut down any receiver he faces off against.

It will be interesting to see whether the Chargers receivers will be able to stay productive in this matchup.

Ravens Run Offense vs. Chargers Run Defense

Lamar Jackson has the ability to raze defenses with either his arm or with his legs. (USA Today Sports)

While it does say Ravens Run Offense, that actually just means Lamar Jackson. Ravens running backs have not been terrible this year (Ty’Son Williams has 170 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown), but Lamar Jackson really steals the show here. Jackson’s running ability is so dangerous for opposing defenses, that he gets unfairly labeled a “running back” when his passing ability is clearly there. Regardless, Jackson’s ability to run will be a dangerous matchup for the Chargers’ run defense.

The Chargers’ run defense is ranked dead last in the league, allowing an average of 157.6 rushing yards per game. Granted, it should be taken into account that they have faced some stiff competition in the run game. The Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys are the first- and second-ranked run offenses in the league, respectively. No other team in the NFL can say that they have faced both of these lethal run offenses. With that said, does that make the Chargers run defense actually decent? No, not really. The only game in which the Chargers’ run defense looked good was the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, when the Raiders were held to only 48 yards on 18 carries. This mismatch for the Chargers is a massive hurdle for their chances to beat the Ravens.

Summary + Prediction

The Chargers really get no breaks, eh? Almost every game they’ve played so far was against a highly talented, competitive team. Sure, it can be argued that the Washington Football Team and Las Vegas Raiders are struggling at the moment, but when the Chargers faced each of them, they both were still in great situations. This matchup will be a difficult one to win for the Chargers, much like last week.

I predicted that the Cleveland Browns would slightly edge out the Chargers and that the Browns’ running game would torch the Chargers’ run defense. This week, the Chargers face a similar predicament. Will the Chargers’ electric offense be able to keep up with the Ravens’ run offense? Probably. The Chargers proved me half-right last week, effectively throwing a wet napkin at the fiery Browns run game last week, but the Chargers’ offense actually managed to out-pace the Browns’ offense to win the game. It’s possible that the Chargers repeat that against the Ravens’ defense, since the Browns’ defense is better and less injured. I predict that the Chargers win in a high-scoring shootout, 35-31. This has been the Chargers-Ravens NFL Week 6 preview.

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