By Dave Thomas
Is the season on life support for the San Diego Chargers?
Sporting a 2-5 record, the Bolts head across the country for Sunday's match-up with the Baltimore Ravens, a team that also knows its season could very well be on the line. For one of these teams, the 2015 season will all but be history with a loss in Maryland.
After falling way behind the rival Oakland Raiders last Sunday afternoon, San Diego managed to battle back to trailing only by eight points in the game's final minute, but an onside kick attempt failed, giving the Raiders the 37-29 win. With the loss, the Chargers once again showed this season that failing to play a full 60 minutes of football will end up costing you.
So, what will the Bolts need to do in order to make this cross-country trip a successful one?
Ravens Still Dangerous Despite Record
As any visiting team can tell you, playing in Baltimore against the Ravens, be they 1-6 or 6-1, is no picnic. Baltimore, which annually comes into a season expecting to compete for not only the AFC North title but also the conference championship, has been beset by the loss in the off-season of some solid talent, along with having a team this year that is unusually not strong on the defensive side of the ball. Baltimore, which has the 25th-ranked defense currently in the NFL, is not use to giving up nearly 27 points a game and some 385 yards a contest. So, if those numbers sound like a recipe for success for Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offense, don't quite write this game off as a victory just yet.
As has been the case for a number of years now, San Diego's offensive line has been battling injuries and inconsistent play through seven games. While Rivers has been putting up some big numbers to date (Chargers lead the league with 343.6 passing yards per game), the running game has been anything but spectacular, trudging along with a mere 87.1 yards per game, leaving it ranked 29th overall in the league. If San Diego is to get the victory come Sunday, Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver will need to move the ball on the ground, taking some of the pressure off of Rivers. To make matters more challenging, starting tight end Antonio Gates is listed as questionable due to a knee issue.
San Diego's biggest losses heading into the meeting with Baltimore are on the defensive side of the ball, as starting linebacker Manti Te'o (ankle) and free safety Eric Weddle (groin) will reportedly sit out this contest. As any Chargers' fan can tell you, both were definitely missed last Sunday as Oakland's Derek Carr through for three touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon, ankle (foot)
Craig Mager, corner (hamstring)
Chris Watt, center (groin)
Antonio Gates, tight end (knee)
Chris Hairston, offensive tackle (illness)
Sean Lissemore, nose tackle (hamstring)
Denzel Perryman, inside linebacker (biceps)
Orlando Franklin, offensive guard (ankle)
Manti Te'o, linebacker (ankle)
Eric Weddle, free safety (groin)
Tourek Williams, linebacker (foot)
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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