The New England Patriots know their divisional round opponent: the Los Angeles Chargers will come to town after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 in an eventful wild card game earlier today. We will break down the contest all week long, but for right now make sure to get a first impression of the matchup ahead with our six quick things to know about Patriots versus Chargers.
The Chargers had the best regular season record in the AFC
Even though they finished the regular season as just the AFC’s fifth seed, the Chargers actually were tied for the conference’s best record at 12-4. Unfortunately for them, they lost the division title and number one playoff seed on a tiebreaker against the Kansas City Chiefs. Nevertheless, Los Angeles is a tough team: after starting the season with a 1-2 record, it turned the corner quickly and went on to win 12 of its final 14 regular season games.
We will see the NFL’s best home team against the NFL’s best road team
As we have discussed two weeks ago, the Patriots were able to finish the regular season as the only team in the league undefeated at home. Despite their dominance at Gillette Stadium, the upcoming game against the Chargers might be the team’s toughest yet: Los Angeles went 7-1 on the road during the regular season — the lone loss coming against the intercity rival Rams — and was able to grind out a win in Baltimore today as well.
Philip Rivers will look to exorcise some demons
While other passers received more attention this season, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had a pretty good campaign as well: he completed 68.3% of his passes during the regular season for 4,308 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Going against a New England defense that has been very good against the pass as of late, the veteran will need to be on top of his game — all while trying to exorcise some demons: Rivers has never beaten a Tom Brady-led team, going 0-7 with two of the losses coming in the postseason.
Los Angeles ranks in the top-10 in scoring on offense and defense
The success the Chargers have enjoyed this season has a lot to do with balance: Los Angeles is playing well on both offense and defense and as a result is ranked sixth league-wide with 26.8 points scored per game, and eighth with 20.6 given up. When looking at scoring differentials on both sides of the ball — as Rich Hill did earlier this week — we can see that the Chargers were seventh best in the NFL during the regular season with a +79.9 overall, a +28.0 (10th) on offense, and a -51.0 (3rd) on defense.
The Chargers defense can do everything well
New England’s offense has struggled with consistency this season on the ground and through the air, and now will face one of the league’s well-rounded defenses: Los Angeles is stout against the run and surrendering just 104.8 rushing yards per game; the team is also stopping the pass with the best of them with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa forming one of the NFL’s better edge rushing duos. Tom Brady and company will have their hands full next week.
Welcome to Pats Pulpit Live: Wild Card Weekend Edition! Brian Phillips and guest Ryan Keiran break down the Chargers trip to Foxborough next weekendPosted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, January 6, 2019