Time to see who’s for real

Ravens, Chargers unbeaten, but they are also untested

The Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers have feasted on lesser competition so far this season.

Both teams are undefeated heading into the game. San Diego (2-0) had a bye last weekend, while the Ravens (3-0) got a last-second field goal by Matt Stover to beat the Cleveland Browns 15-14. Now, each team realizes what lies ahead.

“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us, as everybody recognizes,” Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “We’re already working on Baltimore.”

Players agreed.

“It’s no slight to our competition, but the fact of the matter is, what we’re getting ready to face, initially in Baltimore and then as we continue through the season, is going to be tougher,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said.

Rivers, in his first season leading San Diego’s offense, has stepped deftly into the shoes vacated by Drew Brees, who left the team for New Orleans in the offseason. Rivers is 33-of-46 for 343 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

After being taken in the first round of the 2004 draft, Rivers sat the next two seasons. His conversion to a starter has been made all the easier thanks to one of the league’s most dangerous weapons, running back LaDainian Tomlinson (202 yards, three TDs).

Tomlinson will see plenty of action against a hungry Ravens defense, including a vicious linebacker unit.

“He’s one of the most exciting players in the game, but he’s coming into M&T [Bank Stadium], therefore, he’s not my friend this week,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “I’m not a fan this week. I’m looking forward to playing against him.”

The Ravens’ offensive line will be tested by a San Diego pass rush led by linebacker Shawne Merriman, who has three sacks and an interception. Merriman played college ball 30 minutes down the road from Baltimore at Maryland.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said the Chargers are the best team in the NFL.

“It looks like that to me,” Billick said. “I haven’t seen everybody, so it’s probably not a fair statement to make, because mine is a limited view, to a degree. [I say that] based on what I have seen on film and the two games that they have had.”

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