The Los Angeles Chargers are heading to Baltimore to face a team they have already played this season.
But don’t expect it to be the exact same game.
Though the Ravens will look to attack the Chargers with their unique run-first offense, controlling time of possession and keeping Philip Rivers and his group on the sideline, the Chargers will look to attack the Ravens at all levels on the field.
Though Melvin Gordon left the game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday with an injured ankle, reports suggest that he will play on Sunday. The team will also have Austin Ekeler, who missed the first meeting between these teams, at its disposal.
But perhaps the bigger news is that tight end Hunter Henry expects to make his season debut in this game.
That is huge news for a Chargers team that the lack of a tight end was really one of the only weaknesses on offense. Though Antonio Gates and Virgil Green did what they could to help the team, the Chargers got just 48 receptions out of the tight end position this season.
Henry, who tore his ACL in OTAs this past May and missed the entire regular season, always had designs on coming back this season. The Chargers qualifying for the postseason gives him that opportunity and now, gives the Chargers another dimension on offense.
Gates is a crafty veteran, but he’s also 38 years old and against a tough Ravens defense, does not really pose a great threat. You’ll also recall that in the loss to Baltimore just over one week ago, it was Gates’ fumble late in the game that sealed the Chargers’ fate.
Henry opens the field up more for Rivers. It forces the Ravens to cover more ground in the secondary which should give the receivers more of a chance to get open.
Though Keenan Allen caught five passes in the first game against Baltimore, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin combined for three catches. Though the Ravens were able to push the Bolts around when they had the ball, the way they were able to restrict the Chargers’ offense was just as big a reason as to why the first game had the result that it did.
Henry is an athletic, sure-handed tight end who can extend the field. Having him on the field should give Rivers more confidence to make plays in this game.
The Chargers lost four games this season. The Chargers were able to beat two of those opponents — the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos — the second time around.
Against the Ravens, something needs to be drastically different. With Henry on the field, along with Ekeler this time, the offense will be.