Please, tell anyone who owns a pair of ears on their head, if you're going to "get your popcorn ready" for any game this season, it's not some piddly college game involving Ole Miss and Alabama. No, it is for THIS high-octane showdown of game-changing quarterbacks when the Los Angeles Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens hook up on Sunday. How can you not love a pair of 4-1 teams that are winning close games and beaming with confidence?
Both teams are coming off of double-digit, second-half comebacks. The Ravens were down 22-3 in the third quarter but rallied to beat the Colts 31-25 in overtime, and the Chargers were down 27-13 at home against the Browns in the third quarter but rallied for a wild 47-42 win.
You guys got an encore here? Again, grab your popcorn.
Los Angeles (4-1) at Baltimore (4-1)
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Ravens -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Jackson-to-Andrews: A presidential connection
As Max Kellerman exclaimed this past week on "This Just In," how can you NOT pick Lamar Jackson for league MVP right now?! His Monday night performance in the win over Indianapolis was electrifying in every possible way. He willed his team to victory with nearly 500 yards by himself, overcoming a 16-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation to pull out the win. From the third quarter onward, Jackson was a remarkable 29-of-32 for 335 yards and four touchdowns. He set an NFL record by completing 86 percent of his passes, the highest completion rate by a quarterback with more than 40 attempts. He also set high-water marks for the Ravens franchise with his 442 yards through the air. But the biggest development was seeing him and tight end Mark Andrews hook up and dominate the middle of the opposing defensive backfield. The big tight end had 11 catches for 147 yards, including the final two touchdowns of regulation and the game-tying two-point conversion. You don't think the Chargers won't pay special attention to No. 89 on Sunday, do you?
2. Herbert starting to blossom
But boy, if you're Justin Herbert and that Chargers offense, you're probably licking your chops a little bit here too. Baltimore gave up 513 yards and a staggering 29 first downs in that win over the Colts. At one point, the Ravens trailed 22-3 in the third quarter but then started bottling up Indianapolis to help fuel their comeback win. Now, what if they allow Herbert and Co. those kinds of miles for his offense to roam? That'll be a bad thing, man. Herbert is starting to come into his own, to say the least. I mean, I bet he really COULD throw a strawberry through a battleship. In the first eight one-score games of his career, Herbert was 1-7. He has gone 7-1 in one-score games since then. That is freakin' remarkable. On top of that, Herbert has 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games. If that type of cleanliness continues it will be hard to bet against the young man here.
3. It's a mad rush
The defenses for both the Chargers and the Ravens have been a little underwhelming thus far, allowing 372 yards and 390 yards per game respectively. The most intriguing matchup going into this one has to be the fact that the Ravens are fourth in the league in rushing offense, averaging 149 yards per game and a stellar five yards per carry. Couple that with the fact that the Chargers are dead last in defending the run, allowing 158 yards per game and 5.6 per carry. That's a pretty bad combination for the Lightning Bolts. If they allow the Ravens to control the clock, get Mr. Jackson in a comfort zone and dominate the game, it's lights out. The worst thing for the Chargers is to have Herbert's lethal arm sitting for long stretches on the sidelines. But conversely, the Chargers' passing offense is third in the NFL, throwing for 303 yards per game, while the Ravens' pass defense is 29th, giving up 296 per contest. So there is THAT chess game going on here.
This game will certainly be on the offensive side, no matter what the defenses throw at these two. The one statistic we haven't thrown at you yet is the fact that the Ravens lead the NFL with 441 yards of offense per game and the Chargers are seventh with 411. Both squads have the ability to light up the scoreboard, so obviously it will be the better defense that steps up here that will win this game.
Lamar Jackson is a very impressive 18-4 in regular-season home starts in his Ravens career. This is two pretty evenly-matched teams, so in that situation, you go with the home team, especially since this game starts at 10 a.m. west coast time for the Chargers.
Prediction: Ravens 38, Chargers 34
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.