The San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens go head to head Sunday Night. What are the sportsbook odds makers offering bettors, and which way should you look when making your NFL picks?

Throughout the week I'll be publishing articles handicapping this game. Let's start by taking a look at the opening NFL odds and some of the key factors that will affect how the NFL betting shops move the numbers leading up to game time. 

Week 14 happenings

Ray RiceStarting with the home team this Sunday, the Chargers have seemingly busted out of their terrible slump, as they have won two straight after losing six in a row. San Diego has scored 38 and 37 points in their last two wins. The most recent one was very convincing. The Chargers took control early with an Antonio Gates touchdown and never looked back. Their defense didn't give up a touchdown and the only scores for Buffalo were a field goal and a recovered fumble in the end zone. San Diego also forced three turnovers including two interceptions; one of which was a pick six. 

For a guy who has been one of the biggest player disappointments this season, Philip Rivers has put up some solid numbers over his last two starts. Rivers has thrown for 534 yards, six touchdowns and no picks in those two wins. At 6-7 the Chargers would need a miracle to make the playoffs after their 4-7 start, but beating a playoff team for the first time this season would do wonders for their psyche, (The Broncos had Kyle Orton starting when San Diego beat them in week 5, even though Tebow replaced him in the second half). 

The Ravens had the task of taking care of the Colts in Baltimore in week 14. Even though, that's been getting tougher every week. At this point in the season, if you're the team who loses to the Colts, kiss your street cred goodbye. Baltimore won 24-10 and only allowed 167 total yards (the equivalent of 280 to a real team; still pretty good). The one touchdown the Colts did score was in garbage time as the clock ran out in the fourth quarter. If you subtract the 76 yards Indianapolis got from that meaningless drive, you have one hell of a defensive performance (and some mad Ravens backers that missed the cover because of the late score).

Opening numbers 

After sportsbooks opened this game as a pick em' the Ravens have quickly moved to being -2 ½ favorites on the road. I'm not sure if beating the Colts was grounds for the early line movement, but I do know that the public has liked the Ravens all year and have lost almost all faith in the Chargers. San Diego has been a hot spot for inconsistent play and an angry mob mentality towards head coach Norv Turner. Turner has been on the hot seat all season and it looks like he will not be retained at the end of the year. I believe this unknown has hurt the Chargers and their ability to cover the spread. 

For the Ravens, this season and their respective numbers ATS have been marked by some impressive wins and some head scratching losses. Some people write these losses to Jacksonville and Seattle off as just bumps in the road. This could be true, but I think that the Ravens' losses this season could be contributed to lack of focus. This team is good enough to win a title and has the veterans needed to keep the focus, but the puzzling losses have caused Vegas to be very conservative lines. If the Ravens were 12-1, I could see this line being -5 or maybe higher. The stretch run for Baltimore will be very telling if this team is ready to take the next step.

Injuries and other factors 

Malcom FloydThis wasn't confirmed by anyone this past Sunday, but I believe that Ravens linebacker and captain Ray Lewis could have played against the Colts but the training staff and coaches seemed to think that sitting out one more game against the worst team in the league won't hurt anything. It was a smart move, and having Lewis healthy for this game, the rest of the season and the playoffs is key for this team. Most thought he would start slowing down this year as a 36 year-old, but Lewis was still having another fantastic year before he went down with turf toe. Though we won't know anything until practice starts; I could see Lewis making his return this week. 

One other note from the Ravens, is that starting cornerback Lardarius Webb left the Ravens' game against the Colts with a toe injury of his own. Early reports claimed he would have to miss game time, but yesterday coach John Harbaugh refuted those claims saying “We've got bumps and bruises.” I'm assuming that Webb will be questionable to start the week, so we'll track his status carefully. 

The Chargers are pretty healthy heading into this Sunday night's game, with their loan injury on defensive end Jacques Cesaire. Cesaire had to be carted off of Sunday's win against the Bills with an ankle injury. No reports have been released on the severity of the injury, but it doesn't look good for the Chargers' depth on the line for this Sunday.

Stay glued to your computer throughout the week so you won't miss my further handicapping and analysis on this contest. Later in the week I'll be releasing my picks on betting the total and the spread. Until then, take a trip over to the thread for this game in the NFL Betting forum. Let us know who you like Sunday night and any other thoughts you might have on the Ravens or Chargers.