C Nick Hardwick (Donald Miralle/Getty)
When the Chargers and Ravens met last season, it was a clash of two of the league's elite teams. In the 2007 rematch, both teams are battling on the brink and desperate for a win.
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: 6th meeting. Ravens lead series, 3-2. The Ravens have won the past three meetings after losing the first two. In their previous matchup (October 2006), the Ravens edged past the Chargers 16-13 in Baltimore. Ravens tight end Todd Heap bounced off a Shawne Merriman hit and scored a touchdown with 34 seconds remaining to pull off the victory.
PREDICTION: Chargers 24-20
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Ravens are on pace to commit a franchise-record 41 turnovers this season. They have a minus-9 turnover margin and are last in the league with a 32.1 red zone touchdown percentage (nine TDs in 28 possessions). It all should equal up to a heavier emphasis on RB Willis McGahee. QB Kyle Boller also admitted he needs to hit his hot routes to help an o-line struggling with protection.
Time for Rivers to step up: Tomlinson wants more carries, especially toward the edges. But he could find the going tough once again with the Ravens having not allowed a 100-yard rusher in a league-high 13 straight games. San Diego desperately needs QB Philip Rivers, who has a league-leading 17 turnovers, to find his form from last season. The good news is it appears he and WR Chris Chambers are finally developing some chemistry.
Ravens: DE Trevor Pryce (torn pectoral muscle) was placed on Injured Reserve this week; QB Steve McNair (shoulder) is out; TE Todd Heap (hamstring) could be a game-time decision.
Chargers: C Nick Hardwick (foot) is out at least one more game; DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is out four more games, while backup Jacques Cesaire (toe) is limiting his practice reps to save himself for the game.
FAST FACTS: McGahee has a rushing touchdown in each of his past five games. ... Tomlinson needs 29 rushing yards to reach 10,000 for his career.
--RT Adam Terry could be benched after starting eight games this season. There has been talk that he might be replaced by rookie third-round pick Marshal Yanda.
--TE Todd Heap has not practiced and isn't expected to play because of a hamstring injury. There is a chance that he might not play again this season.
--CB Chris McAlister has not practiced all week with a right knee strain but he is expected to start.
--WR Devard Darling will be the Ravens' No. 3 receiver because Demetrius Williams is out. Darling is coming off a career game, when he caught four passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.
--Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick (foot) has increased his practice time and went the entire workout on Thursday. He's probably a week away, although he might be able to go Sunday.
--DT Jamal Williams worked, after his customary Wednesday practice off to save his knees.
--LB Carlos Polk (shoulder) going to IR is a blow to the special teams. He gave the unit a big-time attitude and led it with 12 tackles.
--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is encouraged with this rehabilitation and hopes to return for the final two games.
--WR Chris Chambers could have a big day if the Ravens' solid run defense doesn't bend. Chambers had his top showing as a Charger after catching four passes for 93 yards on Sunday.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson has gone four straight games without reaching 100 yards rushing and is facing a Ravens defense which allows but 78 rushing yards per game.