The red hot Chargers travel east again to take on the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs. LA fended off a fourth quarter rally against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday to meet up with the Pats for just the second playoff meeting between the franchises in the last eight years.
Well, if this game was in Los Angeles I would probably say no…but since it is in a state outside of California, then I will say…maybe.
The Chargers are 8-1 on the road (including playoffs), but even more impressive is that their only “road” loss came just a few miles away against the LA Rams. So, as I stated earlier, since this game is on the road in a different state, then the Chargers have a strong chance to pull off this upset, however, it will be no easy task.
The Patriots earned the second overall seed in the AFC and will host a playoff game for what seems like every single year that Tom and Bill Belichik have been together. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs back in 2007, Rivers was playing on a torn ACL and the Pats came away with a 20-12 win at home.
After last Sunday’s win Rivers said this game will be for redemption for the 2007 showing, and that he hopes the Chargers can get it done this time around. As far as playing the game goes, it is unlikely that LA will use seven defensive backs again this week, but stopping short passes to running backs has been a problem for them, something that has helped the Pats win five Lombardi Trophy’s in the TB12 era.
I know this sounds cliché, and it is, but if the Chargers can get to Brady and force him into tough throws, and push him outside the pocket, then they will have a fighting chance. If not, then it will be a long day in Foxboro. The key matchup will be Derwin James on either Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman. James is one of the best rookie d-backs in 2018 and will be a matchup problem for the Patriots. If he can keep the ball away from those two receivers or even spy James White out of the backfield, then the Chargers can keep this a game.
Offensively, Rivers should have time to make throws as the Patriots biggest weakness is their pass rush. If the o-line can limit the amount of times Rivers has to move around, as well as create holes for Melvin Ingram, I could see this game opening up for LA. The biggest thing the Chargers must do is manage the clock. Limit the amount of time that Tom has with the ball, and let your defense force multiple three-and-outs.
This will be a high scoring game, and the weather looks perfect for some playoff football! In the end I just think that it is nearly impossible to beat the Tom-Bill combo in January on the road and I think it comes down to a last second field goal for the red, white and blue.