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NFL playoff picks: Who the experts are taking in Ravens vs. Chargers

Ravens Wire logo Ravens Wire 1/4/2019 Nathan Beaucage
a person wearing a helmet: USA TODAY © USA TODAY USA TODAY

With a 6-1 record in their last seven games, a one-of-a-kind run-first offense that no one can seem to figure out how to stop and football's best defense, the Baltimore Ravens have all the momentum and lots of reason to believe they'll win entering their Sunday playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers, something that league experts have recognized.

As of Thursday afternoon, NFLPickwatch reported that 63 percent of league experts are picking the Ravens to beat the Chargers in their wild card round face-off.

"The Chargers had a terrific season, which taken in totality was more impressive than Baltimore's," wrote Benjamin Hoffman of The New York Times. "But unless they figure something out based on the film of their fairly humiliating loss two weeks ago, quarterback Philip Rivers may have his season end early once again."

"The Ravens defense has proved it can stop Philip Rivers, who had his lowest QB rating of the season (51.7) against the Ravens two weeks ago," wrote Jen Badie of The Baltimore Sun in her prediction of a 23-13 Baltimore win, "add in that John Harbaugh has never lost a wild card playoff game (5-0) and the Chargers have to travel coast to coast, and the advantage goes to the home team."

As Hoffman and Badie alluded to, the Ravens have cause to be optimistic about this game, as they defeated Los Angeles 22-10 on the road just a couple of weeks ago in Week 16. Nonetheless, some experts believe that the Chargers will exact their revenge on Baltimore when they meet again.

The Chargers seemed to figure out the Ravens' rushing attack toward the end of their Week 16 meeting, and Philip Rivers is a smart enough quarterback to not make the same egregious mistakes twice," Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun wrote as justification for his prediction of a 20-16 Los Angeles win, "Lamar Jackson has to play mistake-free football for the Ravens to win. The Chargers' speed won't make that easy."

Vegas, too, likes the Ravens' odds to win in their first playoff appearance since the 2014 season, with USA Today listing Baltimore as 3-point favorites on Thursday.

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