ESPN senior writer Mike Sando asks NFL insiders to pick winners in games each week. Three evaluators joined the panel for wild-card weekend. Note: Completed games have been moved to the bottom.
Sunday: 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS | Point spread: BAL by 2.5 | Insiders pick: BAL (3/3)
The Chargers were the better team much of the season, but Baltimore has been the better team of late, including when the Ravens beat them 22-10 at Los Angeles in Week 16.
The general feeling is that the Chargers' offensive line cannot hold up well enough to win this game on the road.
"Baltimore wins if the Chargers do not do things drastically different to get the ball out of their hands so they avoid getting their backs matched on linebackers in protection," one of the insiders said. "If they deal in six-man protections all day like they did the last time, they could get killed. You can't do that against these guys."
This insider thought the Chargers could improve their chances for success if they had Melvin Gordon and their other backs free-releasing into pass routes instead of taking time to help in protection. This could give Philip Rivers better opportunities to unload the ball before the Baltimore rush overwhelms the Chargers' line.
"You need to be in more five-man protections where the back isn't blocking, and then your hots have to be so good that you can beat the extra rusher when they do blitz," this insider said. "And then you have to be able to hand it off a little bit."