AFC Divisional Buildup: Chargers vs. Pats

DeadlySplitter

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First time these two meet in the postseason in 11 seasons.

San Diego has been touted as the best all-around team in football this year. I can't disagree, if Mahomes wasn't so good, they would be the 1 seed in the AFC. But they kinda coached a conservative game today in Balitmore and let them have a last-gasp drive in the final minute, when they should have dominated by 3-4 scores.

early forecast is it's going to be below freezing. how many games has Philip Rivers played in that temperature? I'll take my chances.
 

tims4wins

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The Chargers did win in Denver in week 16 with a 4:30 kickoff, that was likely pretty cold.

Flying back to the west coast tonight then back east on Friday or Saturday can’t be particularly easy though.
 

DrewDawg

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early forecast is it's going to be below freezing. how many games has Philip Rivers played in that temperature? I'll take my chances.
From ESPN
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Chargers are 5-4 since 2012 in games in which he temperature at game time is between 20 to 45 degrees.
 

Brand Name

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How many games has Philip Rivers played in that temperature? I'll take my chances.
Rivers is 8-5 with game temperatures 35* degrees and under. Only three this decade, none since 2014, and, as would be expected for a West Coast team, the production is notably worse when playing Eastern time teams.

*With Weather Channel giving a high/low of 30/16F for Foxboro on Sunday, this personally seemed a like a decent baseline.
 

Cellar-Door

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Probably comes down to line play, Chargers D-line obliterated a good O-Line in Baltimore,
 

m0ckduck

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This figures to be the least Pats have been favored by at home in playoffs since... 2004? Weren’t they home underdogs against Indy then?

Wouldn’t surprise me if Vegas prefers LAC on a neutral field.

Edit: I stupidly didn’t realize there’s already a line.
 
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j44thor

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Probably comes down to line play, Chargers D-line obliterated a good O-Line in Baltimore,
Melvin Ingram in particular had a huge day. Controlling him and Bosa will be a big challenge for NE.
LAC play the most zone defense in the NFL, something Brady in the past has shred.
 

DrewDawg

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This figures to be the least Pats have been favored by at home in playoffs since... 2004? Weren’t they home underdogs against Indy then?

Wouldn’t surprise me if Vegas prefers LAC on a neutral field.
If they did then this line wouldn’t be 4.5 or 5
 

Brand Name

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This figures to be the least Pats have been favored by at home in playoffs since... 2004? Weren’t they home underdogs against Indy then?

Wouldn’t surprise me if Vegas prefers LAC on a neutral field.
-4.5 ties it with the 2015 Chiefs divisional round game, last time it was sub -4.5 was the 2009 Ravens nightmare. They were -1.0 against 2004 Indy, lowest in the Brady/BB era.

By this game's opening line, no, Vegas prefers the Pats. Homefield always adds a -3.0, so it'd be -1.5 NE on a neutral field.
 

wilked

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This was the matchup I figured. This feels like a 30-something to 20-something game, plenty of points. It’s will need to be efficient on offense I think. Time to open up the game plan...I think they’ve been sandbagging the last couple of weeks
 

JMDurron

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It would be nice to see the offensive line pass block effectively for the first time since the Miami game, IMO, but I’m not loving the chances of that happening. Brady is going to take a beating, but I think the defense will carry the day at home.
 

TheoShmeo

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Beat LA...again.

Not the most feel good of wins for those Chargers. I get it, a win is a win, and you take it and move on. But I like that SD had to hold on for dear life.
 
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RedOctober3829

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This is going to be a fascinating matchup. The Chargers come to Foxboro having not lost on the road all season while the Patriots have not lost at home. By weighted DVOA, the Chargers are the #6 rated team(#2 offense, #19 defense, and #17 ST) and the Patriots are #8(#5 offense, #16 offense, #16 ST).

When Patriots have the ball
--I think we will see a run-heavy offense this week as the Pats have shown recently, but more of a power running game than the zone runs they tend to run. For the season, the Chargers rank 26th in the league in yards per carry against power plays(5.71) vs. 11th in the league vs. zone runs(3.71). Since Joey Bosa has been back, it's been even worse as they've given up 6.67 YPC against power runs. This is a team where the Patriots can take advantage of their success running the football as of late.

--Attack the Chargers LB's in the passing game with the RBs. The Chargers rank 23rd in DVOA against opposing RBs giving up almost 60 yards per game to that position group. Last year against the Chargers, Brady targeted the RBs 16 times. White had 5/85 and Burkhead had 7/68 to lead the team in receiving. The short passing game with the RB's hopefully will counter the Chargers' pass rush and get the ball out of Brady's hands quickly.

--I would not count on Rob Gronkowski having much of an impact in the passing game this week. The Chargers are the #1 team in the league in defensive DVOA vs TE's. If Gronk is going to have any success, it will have to come on play action seam throws where Derwin James gets sucked up the field.

--If the running game is a success early, I'm hoping to see Josh McDaniels bring in heavier formations and run tempo with them to keep the Chargers on the field with their base look. Don't be afraid to pass out of the heavy formations with chunk plays down the field. This is a good opportunity to line up in a 2 back set with an extra lineman and run screens to the strong side of the field and also sneak White or Burkhead out on wheel routes. The middle of the field will tend to be open with success with the run so play action routes to Edelman should be open. Interesting fact today: the Chargers used 7 DBs in 58 of 59 snaps. If that happens Sunday, run, run, run. They have to respect the passing game of the Pats as opposed to today.

--I would also like to see Patterson lined up in the backfield for a few plays and swing it out to him. If they can't handle RB's in the passing game, CP would be a load to deal with.

When Chargers have the ball
--I'm not sure how healthy Melvin Gordon is at this point. He had to leave the game today and did come back, but he's been dealing with a knee problem for a while. I don't think he's 100%. My concerns are with stopping their passing game.

--Phillip Rivers has a tendency to make mistakes when he's had to make quick decisions. My hope is that the Patriots deploy the "Amoeba" defense on passing downs, play man to man outside, and make Rivers guess where the rush is coming from and which guys will drop to the middle. Chances are he will throw a couple to the defense and the defense better capitalize where the Ravens couldn't today.

--Blitz Rivers a ton and turn the game into winning 1-on-1 battles against their receivers. I'm confident that Stephon Gilmore will win the vast majority of his. With the way JC Jackson and JMac have been playing, I'm confident in them too. It will force Rivers to check down to his TEs and RBs, so it is imperative that the LB's and safeties tackle in space.

Special Teams
--DO NOT KICK IT TO DESMOND KING. Kick everything out of the end zone or squib kick. I don't care. Just don't give King a chance to affect the game. The kick coverage has been terrible all year so don't give the best KR in the game anything.
 
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Jed Zeppelin

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I like the match up in that if the Pat's lose I can be happy for the LAC. As opposed to Baltimore.
Undoubtedly.

Chargers D looked good for about 52 minutes today but they were also geared up to face a very limited game plan and didn’t see a wrinkle all day.

Love the Pats’ chances if they take care of the ball.
 

Spelunker

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This is going to be a fascinating matchup. The Chargers come to Foxboro having not lost on the road all season while the Patriots have not lost at home. By weighted DVOA, the Chargers are the #6 rated team(#2 offense, #19 defense, and #17 ST) and the Patriots are #8(#5 offense, #16 offense, #16 ST).

When Patriots have the ball
--I think we will see a run-heavy offense this week as the Pats have shown recently, but more of a power running game than the zone runs they tend to run. For the season, the Chargers rank 26th in the league in yards per carry against power plays(5.71) vs. 11th in the league vs. zone runs(3.71). Since Joey Bosa has been back, it's been even worse as they've given up 6.67 YPC against power runs. This is a team where the Patriots can take advantage of their success running the football as of late.

--Attack the Chargers LB's in the passing game with the RBs. The Chargers rank 23rd in DVOA against opposing RBs giving up almost 60 yards per game to that position group. Last year against the Chargers, Brady targeted the RBs 16 times. White had 5/85 and Burkhead had 7/68 to lead the team in receiving. The short passing game with the RB's hopefully will counter the Chargers' pass rush and get the ball out of Brady's hands quickly.

--I would not count on Rob Gronkowski having much of an impact in the passing game this week. The Chargers are the #1 team in the league in defensive DVOA vs TE's. If Gronk is going to have any success, it will have to come on play action seam throws where Derwin James gets sucked up the field.

--If the running game is a success early, I'm hoping to see Josh McDaniels bring in heavier formations and run tempo with them to keep the Chargers on the field with their base look. Don't be afraid to pass out of the heavy formations with chunk plays down the field. This is a good opportunity to line up in a 2 back set with an extra lineman and run screens to the strong side of the field and also sneak White or Burkhead out on wheel routes. The middle of the field will tend to be open with success against the run so play action routes to Edelman should be open. Interesting fact today: the Chargers used 7 DBs in 58 of 59 snaps. If that happens Sunday, run, run, run. They have to respect the passing game of the Pats as opposed to today.

--I would also like to see Patterson lined up in the backfield for a few plays and swing it out to him. If they can't handle RB's in the passing game, CP would be a load to deal with.

When Chargers have the ball
--I'm not sure how healthy Melvin Gordon is at this point. He had to leave the game today and did come back, but he's been dealing with a knee problem for a while. I don't think he's 100%. My concerns are with stopping their passing game.

--Phillip Rivers has a tendency to make mistakes when he's had to make quick decisions. My hope is that the Patriots deploy the "Amoeba" defense on passing downs, play man to man outside, and make Rivers guess where the rush is coming from and which guys will drop to the middle. Chances are he will throw a couple to the defense and the defense better capitalize where the Ravens couldn't today.

--Blitz Rivers a ton and turn the game into winning 1-on-1 battles against their receivers. I'm confident that Stephon Gilmore will win the vast majority of his. With the way JC Jackson and JMac have been playing, I'm confident in them too. It will force Rivers to check down to his TEs and RBs, so it is imperative that the LB's and safeties tackle in space.

Special Teams
--DO NOT KICK IT TO DESMOND KING. Kick everything out of the end zone or squib kick. I don't care. Just don't give King a chance to affect the game. The kick coverage has been terrible all year so don't give the best KR in the game anything.
Even his first name makes me nervous.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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This is going to be a fascinating matchup. The Chargers come to Foxboro having not lost on the road all season while the Patriots have not lost at home. By weighted DVOA, the Chargers are the #6 rated team(#2 offense, #19 defense, and #17 ST) and the Patriots are #8(#5 offense, #16 offense, #16 ST).

When Patriots have the ball
--I think we will see a run-heavy offense this week as the Pats have shown recently, but more of a power running game than the zone runs they tend to run. For the season, the Chargers rank 26th in the league in yards per carry against power plays(5.71) vs. 11th in the league vs. zone runs(3.71). Since Joey Bosa has been back, it's been even worse as they've given up 6.67 YPC against power runs. This is a team where the Patriots can take advantage of their success running the football as of late.

--Attack the Chargers LB's in the passing game with the RBs. The Chargers rank 23rd in DVOA against opposing RBs giving up almost 60 yards per game to that position group. Last year against the Chargers, Brady targeted the RBs 16 times. White had 5/85 and Burkhead had 7/68 to lead the team in receiving. The short passing game with the RB's hopefully will counter the Chargers' pass rush and get the ball out of Brady's hands quickly.

--I would not count on Rob Gronkowski having much of an impact in the passing game this week. The Chargers are the #1 team in the league in defensive DVOA vs TE's. If Gronk is going to have any success, it will have to come on play action seam throws where Derwin James gets sucked up the field.

--If the running game is a success early, I'm hoping to see Josh McDaniels bring in heavier formations and run tempo with them to keep the Chargers on the field with their base look. Don't be afraid to pass out of the heavy formations with chunk plays down the field. This is a good opportunity to line up in a 2 back set with an extra lineman and run screens to the strong side of the field and also sneak White or Burkhead out on wheel routes. The middle of the field will tend to be open with success with the run so play action routes to Edelman should be open. Interesting fact today: the Chargers used 7 DBs in 58 of 59 snaps. If that happens Sunday, run, run, run. They have to respect the passing game of the Pats as opposed to today.

--I would also like to see Patterson lined up in the backfield for a few plays and swing it out to him. If they can't handle RB's in the passing game, CP would be a load to deal with.

When Chargers have the ball
--I'm not sure how healthy Melvin Gordon is at this point. He had to leave the game today and did come back, but he's been dealing with a knee problem for a while. I don't think he's 100%. My concerns are with stopping their passing game.

--Phillip Rivers has a tendency to make mistakes when he's had to make quick decisions. My hope is that the Patriots deploy the "Amoeba" defense on passing downs, play man to man outside, and make Rivers guess where the rush is coming from and which guys will drop to the middle. Chances are he will throw a couple to the defense and the defense better capitalize where the Ravens couldn't today.

--Blitz Rivers a ton and turn the game into winning 1-on-1 battles against their receivers. I'm confident that Stephon Gilmore will win the vast majority of his. With the way JC Jackson and JMac have been playing, I'm confident in them too. It will force Rivers to check down to his TEs and RBs, so it is imperative that the LB's and safeties tackle in space.

Special Teams
--DO NOT KICK IT TO DESMOND KING. Kick everything out of the end zone or squib kick. I don't care. Just don't give King a chance to affect the game. The kick coverage has been terrible all year so don't give the best KR in the game anything.
Sorry be pedantic but chargers lost @ rams. They’re 8-1 including today on road.
 

IpswichSox

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If you're the LAC coaching staff do you want your guys practicing in LA or living out of a hotel in Boston for a week? Considering the weather forecast for the game, maybe it would be better to have the Chargers practicing outdoors somewhere in Mass. for the week (from their perspective).

On the cross-country flights, I get it -- you'd rather not do it. But is it that big of a deal? It's not like you're squeezing 300-pound guys into coach or standing around the gate for hours waiting for jet way door to open. You're flying private, not commercial. Again, I know we'd rather have LAC do it than the Pats flying to LA, but is it really that much of an imposition? If it is, practice for the week in Mass.
 

RedOctober3829

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If you're the LAC coaching staff do you want your guys practicing in LA or living out of a hotel in Boston for a week? Considering the weather forecast for the game, maybe it would be better to have the Chargers practicing outdoors somewhere in Mass. for the week (from their perspective).

On the cross-country flights, I get it -- you'd rather not do it. But is it that big of a deal? It's not like you're squeezing 300-pound guys into coach or standing around the gate for hours waiting for jet way door to open. You're flying private, not commercial. Again, I know we'd rather have LAC do it than the Pats flying to LA, but is it really that much of an imposition? If it is, practice for the week in Mass.
It's much more complicated than you make it out to be. You need practice space, meeting space, enough hotel space for upwards of 125-150 people, weight room, etc. You would also have to fly out enough supplies for the athletic trainers, equipment managers, strength coaches, etc.

You'd be doing all this in 2 cities because when planning this last week you don't know where the game is.

As far as the flights go, it's not as glamorous as it seems. It's not like there are first class seats for everyone and no matter how you're flying it's still a cross country flight. It still affects your body.

LA has won all of his East Coast games this year. They seem to know what they're doing.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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It's much more complicated than you make it out to be. You need practice space, meeting space, enough hotel space for upwards of 125-150 people, weight room, etc. You would also have to fly out enough supplies for the athletic trainers, equipment managers, strength coaches, etc.

You'd be doing all this in 2 cities because when planning this last week you don't know where the game is.

As far as the flights go, it's not as glamorous as it seems. It's not like there are first class seats for everyone and no matter how you're flying it's still a cross country flight. It still affects your body.

LA has won all of his East Coast games this year. They seem to know what they're doing.
So...2 games? One in week 2 and today?

I’m pretty sure they could line up hotels, a conference room and a field somewhere closer than LA.
 

ifmanis5

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We're gonna hear all week Rivers 0-7 vs Brady and vice versa. The neutrals and media love a good narrative and will be all in for the Chargers and for Rivers to finally get to a Super Bowl. The Chargers pass rush is brutal, expect runs and some quick passes and check downs. If the OL can't get it blocked and Brady goes into happy feet mode, it's gonna get ugly.
 

RedOctober3829

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So...2 games? One in week 2 and today?

I’m pretty sure they could line up hotels, a conference room and a field somewhere closer than LA.
No if you are planning for the divisional round last week there is a possibility they end up in NE or KC due to how the games go. So, LA would have to plan for both beforehand. It's also not just a conference room. Teams usually take up a ballroom space for meals and would need spaces to serve as meeting rooms for all position groups plus special teams. It's not just a field either. Teams usually utilize 3 fields for a practice.
 

DrewDawg

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If this was something they had wanted to do they could've picked somewhere (spitballing--University of Tennessee, with facilities and no students on campus or just stayed in Baltimore/DC area) and made it work. But clearly they prefer going home.
 

TrotWaddles

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The Chargers did win in Denver in week 16 with a 4:30 kickoff, that was likely pretty cold.

Flying back to the west coast tonight then back east on Friday or Saturday can’t be particularly easy though.
I was thinking this as well. Wonder how many west coast teams have dealt with back to back trips to the east. We are the early game too which is an early body clock for them again also.
 

BaseballJones

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Last year was last year but in Foxboro (misty 62 degree day), the Pats beat the Chargers 21-13.

Brady: 32-47, 333 yds, 1 td, 0 int
Rivers: 17-30, 212 yds, 1 td, 1 int

Gordon: 87 yard TD run, 132 yards rushing total
Allen: 4 rec, 61 yds
Williams: 1 rec, 7 yds
Bosa: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
Ingram: 2 tackles, 1 QB hit
Burkhead: 7 rec, 68 yds
White: 5 rec, 85 yds

The Pats killed the Chargers with passes to the RBs. Gordon had the one huge run but otherwise was kept in check. Ghost had a big game with 4 FG.

Teams are a little different this year obviously, but I'd expect NE to try to pound the Chargers if they come out with 7 DBs. But if they come out conventionally, torture their LBs with passes to the RBs. They have done a good job on Bosa in the past - let's keep it that way.

Should be a tough, hard-fought game, but I expect the Patriots to win.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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No if you are planning for the divisional round last week there is a possibility they end up in NE or KC due to how the games go. So, LA would have to plan for both beforehand. It's also not just a conference room. Teams usually take up a ballroom space for meals and would need spaces to serve as meeting rooms for all position groups plus special teams. It's not just a field either. Teams usually utilize 3 fields for a practice.
Yeah I get that but you’re a college coach right? So if an nfl team called and said ‘hey, conditionally, need be, can we use your facilities for x amount?’ You guys would say no, we need a hard commitment’? They can find hotel rooms and meeting space, it’s not brain surgery.

As noted by Drew, they must prefer it, it just doesn’t make much sense. We mock for London games and they accommodated by working them around bye weeks, when the flights are close to them same, even if not the time change. Isn’t this why teams have traveling secretaries? Can someone work up up a cost analysis on what it would cost for contingencies versus the extra revenue?
 
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TheoShmeo

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In an Eastern Conference final for the 76ers to BEAT LA in the Finals.
This is true but I submit that whenever a Boston team plays an LA team in the playoffs never mind an elimination game, that it totally fits.

That this game is so soon on the heels of the WS helps.

Dig the LA knife deeper.
 

normstalls

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I’m with the stay on the east coast camp. Show confidence- arrange it all in advance and tell your team to plan accordingly. It’s not rocket science.

But hey, no complaints! I think this benefits the Pats.
 

simplyeric

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No if you are planning for the divisional round last week there is a possibility they end up in NE or KC due to how the games go. So, LA would have to plan for both beforehand. It's also not just a conference room. Teams usually take up a ballroom space for meals and would need spaces to serve as meeting rooms for all position groups plus special teams. It's not just a field either. Teams usually utilize 3 fields for a practice.
Obviously the team agrees that it’s easier or better to go home and fly back.
But you don’t think, somewhere between MA and KC, there isn’t a place with multiple practice fields, ballroom space, hotels, meeting rooms, etc?
Like, almost any large-ish university has that.
There are probably literally hundreds of places they could go. And it wouldn’t need to be in MA or in KC. Anywhere in between would do.
It might be all the logistics, or it might be that they feel it’s just better to have their players sleep in their own homes, or something else. But I don’t think it’s ‘theres just no place we could possibly do it’.

If this was something they had wanted to do they could've picked somewhere (spitballing--University of Tennessee, with facilities and no students on campus or just stayed in Baltimore/DC area) and made it work. But clearly they prefer going home.
Guess I should have read one more post.