Chargers To Face NFL's Top Defense At StubHub Center


chargers take on the ravens here

CARSON (CNS) - The Los Angeles Chargers will play host to the Baltimore Ravens today at StubHub Center in a matchup of hot teams.

The Chargers have won four consecutive games and 10 of their past 11. Their 11-3 record matches the Kansas City Chiefs as the best in the AFC. A victory would give them a 12-3 record for the second time since the NFL expanded its schedule to 16 games in 1978, and first since 2009. It would also be the sixth time in team history they have won at least 12 games in a season.

The Ravens (8-6) have won four of five games since rookie Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, replaced an injured Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback, moving into the AFC's second wild card position. Baltimore has rushed for at least 190 yards in five consecutive games, the first team to do so since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens have averaged 230.4 rushing yards over the past five games, the league's highest average over that span. Undrafted rookie Gus Edwards is fourth in the league in rushing over the past five games with 486 yards, while Jackson is fifth with 427, the most by a quarterback in his first five starts in the Super Bowl Era, which began in 1966.

Baltimore is second in the league in rushing, averaging 141.9 yards per game.

“Reporters have asked me about running the football a lot over the last 10 years,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “In Baltimore, it's something that's always been a big part of the Ravens and a big part of our personality -- running and stopping the run.”

The Ravens announced on Friday that Harbaugh would continue as the coach for the 2019 season, “and he and we are working on an extension to his existing contract, which expires after the 2019 season.”

Harbaugh has been Baltimore's coach since 2008.

The Ravens are allowing a league-low 18.07 points and 290.2 yards, and are third in rushing defense, allowing 87.6 yards per game. The Chargers are fourth in scoring, averaging 28.2 points, and sixth in total offense, averaging 392 yards.

Chargers leading rusher Melvin Gordon will return to action after missing three consecutive games because of a knee injury suffered Nov. 25 in a 45-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

“He won't be on a pitch count, but we will be watching him closely because we have more than capable guys that can go in there and get the job done,” Lynn said, referring to rookie Justin Jackson, who ran for a game-high 58 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 27 yards in a 29-28 victory at Kansas City on Dec. 13, his first NFL start.

The Chargers' No. 2 rusher, Austin Ekeler, will miss his second consecutive game because of a shoulder injury. He remains in the concussion protocol, Lynn said.

“He's not practicing because of his shoulder,” Lynn said. “When he gets the strength back in his shoulder, he will be back on the practice field.”

The availability of receiver Keenan Allen will be a game-time decision, Lynn said. Allen is listed as questionable because of a hip injury. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.

“I need to see him run full speed and make cuts,” Lynn said. “He did some things in practice this week. Before I put a player in the game, I like to see them run full speed.”

Allen is the Chargers' leading receiver with 88 catches, 12th in the league, and among their league-high seven Pro Bowl selections, along with Gordon.

Sean Culkin will miss his third consecutive game because of a back injury after starting each of the previous seven games as the second tight end.

Nose tackle Brandon Mebane is expected to return to action after missing the past four games to be with his family. Mebane's daughter Makenna was born Nov. 12, a month premature, diagnosed with trisomy 13, a heart defect, and has had other health issues.

Both teams are eying division titles. The Chargers are assured of a playoff berth and would win their first AFC West title since 2009 with victories in both of their final two regular-season games and a loss or tie by Kansas City in one of its final two games.

Baltimore would win its first AFC North title since 2012 with victories in each of its final two games and a loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers in one of their final two games.

The game is the Ravens' first in the Los Angeles area. They began play in 1996, the second of 21 seasons Los Angeles did not have an NFL team.

Baltimore's roster includes two players who played high school football in Los Angeles County -- receiver Jordan Lasley (Serra) and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (Inglewood). The roster also includes two UCLA alumni, Lasley and linebacker Kenny Young, a fellow rookie, and one USC alumnus, running back Javorius Allen.

The Chargers have made one addition to their active roster since their last game, promoting defensive end Anthony Lanier from the practice squad, replacing Christopher Landrum, who was waived after being inactive for the past seven games. Lanier played 15 games for the Washington Redskins over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, who waived him with an injury designation in September.

More than 20 tons of snow will be deposited outside the northeast side of StubHub Center, allowing fans to build snowmen. There will also be a snowball target practice area.

Judith Hill will perform the national anthem, and also Christmas songs at halftime. Hill was chosen to be Michael Jackson's duet partner for “I Just Can't Stop Loving You” for his planned 2009 “This Is It” concert tour, which was canceled because of his death. Hill also reached the final eight in the spring 2013 season of the NBC singing competition “The Voice,” and was featured in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary on backup singers, “20 Feet From Stardom.”

Pregame activities will begin with an enlistment ceremony for future U.S. Army soldiers from the Los Angeles area.

Shawne Merriman, a three-time Pro Bowl selection in his six seasons as a Chargers linebacker, will fire the Chargers canon. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rodrigo Roman and retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jason Ross will be honored as the Military Heroes of the Week during the first quarter.

Roman enlisted in the Marine Corps directly out of high school in 2001 and served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 he served as an embedded training team adviser to the Afghan National Army.

Roman was wounded in a leg during a firefight in 2009 and badly injured. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and a Combat Action Ribbon.

Ross enlisted in the Marines Corps in 2001. He served his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in a combat zone. He was deployed a second time to Afghanistan in 2010.

Ross stepped on a roadside bomb while on patrol in 2011, losing both legs. He was hospitalized for a year, receiving treatment and physical therapy. He has undergone 245 surgeries, according to the team.

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