The Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Baltimore Ravens last week to have the right to make a trip to Foxborough for a meeting with the New England Patriots. It’s the second consecutive week that the Chargers have to travel out to the east coast. That didn’t seem to bother the Chargers much last week, but they don’t get a rookie quarterback to feast on in the Divisional Round. Lamar Jackson faltered in his first playoff start and the Chargers were able to jump at the opportunity.
It isn’t only because of Jackson playing bad, the defense he was playing has one of the most underrated units in the NFL. They will have a stiffer test on the other side on Sunday. Tom Brady hasn’t had a stellar season by his standards, but this is still Brady. It’s Brady and this is the playoffs in Foxborough. Whoever doubts him hasn’t paid attention to his track record. There is no question that he has shown signs of slowing down, though. All he needs is to flip the elite switch for three games and the Patriots aren’t going to care about the regular season.
After all of the negative reviews levied against the Patriots in the regular season, they secured a bye and are a game away from going to the AFC Championship. In other words, people just like to criticize the Pats whenever they get the chance despite the fact that their success is undeniable. There will people calling the Pats done when he blew his knee out in 2008. With that said, Philip Rivers has looked determined this entire season to get to the most prized game in football.
In most seasons, Rivers would have been a budding MVP candidate. However, Mahomes and Brees have been too good to ignore, especially Mahomes where the award is most likely going. I’ve been looking forward to this matchup in the playoffs for over a month and we get it on Sunday. Head below for our free Chargers vs. Patriots pick in the AFC Divisional Round.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots AFC Divisional Round Betting Odds:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Patriots Pick:
Brady enters the playoffs failing to meet several key thresholds that would have netted him more money this season. It was not a picture perfect year for him, and he will likely be the first to admit that. Brady threw for 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 65.8% completion percentage. The majority of quarterbacks would jump at the chance of owning those numbers, but he certainly hasn’t been as dominant.
Also struggling to perform this season has been Rob Gronkowski. He has looked old and brittle with 682 yards and 3 touchdowns. Last season he posted 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns. Nevertheless, everyone can hit the reset button and start anew in the playoffs.
If he goes for 100+ yards and 2 touchdowns against the Chargers, the regular season won’t mean much. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Chargers have an underrated defense, probably the most underrated unit in the league. While Rivers gets all of the accolades, Joey Bosa and the defense have been going about their business in a positive way. Look for Bosa and Melvin Ingram to play a dominant role on Sunday.
The Chargers finished the regular season 9th with 333.7 yards allowed per game. They also gave up only 20.6 points per session for 8th in the league, just a shade worse than the Patriots who gave up just 20.3 points per game. In their last three games, they’ve allowed 16 points per.
The Chargers were the best defense in the Wild Card Round, as they held the Ravens to 229 yards of offense. Lamar Jackson managed just 139 yards passing through the air. They’re likely to get enough pressure on Brady to cause him to throw some errant throws, albeit, not slow him down completely. Rex Burkhead might be a guy that comes up big as a safety valve for New England in the postseason.
Another underrated defense will be on the field in this one as well. The Patriots held the opposition to 20.3 points per game for 7th in the league. Note that in five of their last six games, nobody has scored more than 20 points on the Pats.
While the offense hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders this season, their defense has performed better than alright. Belichick gets to prepare for an offense that is playing in consecutive east coast games, and is coming off a battle against one of the most physical defenses in the NFL.
I know it’s Rivers and Brady, but I have a feeling it’s the defenses that are going to make the difference in this contest. The UNDER has gone 8-1 in the Patriots’ last nine games and 7-3 in the Chargers’ last ten. The defenses have been playing well and I see that carrying over into the AFC Divisional Round on Sunday. As far as the spread is concerned, I think it’s pretty sharp so going to let that one be.