“Chargers-Why Not Them”
Bring on the 2nd round of the NFL playoffs.
Bring out all the stats you want about the Chargers-Patriots game, but I remind you the game is played on the field come Sunday, and that what’s on paper might not reflect what happens on the scoreboard.
Real Questions worth considering as we go towards Bolts-Pats.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS?..The Bolts, if healthy, have much more firepower down the field than New England. It’s Philip Rivers throwing to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams and his 3-tight ends, with Hunter Henry returning. It’s the combo of Melvin Gordon-Austin Ekeler catching and running. The Chargers are much deeper with more play makers.
WHAT IS NEW ENGLAND’S OFFENSE LIKE NOW?..Tom Brady has become a more short passing yard quarterback. TE-Rob Gronkowski makes plays but is not as big a threat down the field. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan run great crossing routes and slants. The running backs, Sonny Michel, carrying the ball, and James White and Rex Burkhard catching it out in patters spreads the field. It’s just not as explosive New England offense as we have seen.
WHAT ABOUT THE OFFENSIVE LINES?..Both are struggling. The Chargers have allowed a lot more pressure on Rivers over the last 5-games of the season, and his production has tailed off. The offensive tackles have been beaten and the gap play from the guards in side has been spotty. The Patriots are playing a lot of young lineman, and miss LT-Nate Solder, who left as a free agent, but Brady gets the ball out of their quickly.
WHAT HAPPENS DEFENSIVELY?..The Chargers exotic blitz package has been special the second half of the season. They will send people after Brady, and they better get there. New England doesn’t blitz much, but gets to the ball quickly, and makes it tough to throw into coverages. Giving Bill Belicheck a bye week to prepare means Rivers and that front will be challenged.
WHAT ABOUT MATCHUPS?..Problems everywhere. Short of linebackers, covering Gronkowski and the running backs in the flat will be a huge challenge for the Bolts. The secondary, notably Michael Davis, have played much better, complimenting the super season rookie Derwin James has had. Can Gus Bradley’s blitz scheme confuse and pressure Brady? Can they do what they did to Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Lamar Jackson, make him hold the ball and take hits? Only time will tell. New England is playing a ton of nickel and dime packages, and they play physical, so the battles with Keenan Allen running routes, and the ability of Devin-Jason McCourty-Patrick Chung and Stephon Gilmour to deal with the Bolts big receivers will be fascinating.
WHAT ABOUT THE KICKERS?..Excellent in terms of field goals. Michael Badgley has given them reliability in field goals they haven’t had in four years. His kickoffs have been short. Not sold on Donnie Jones, but your brought him in and must believe his angle kicking is better than what you had with Drew Kaiser. Stephen Gostkowski is reliable, a veteran, and knows how to handle the elements in Foxboro.
WHAT ABOUT THE RETURN MEN?..Desmond King has become dangerous, not Tyreek Hill dangerous, but really dynamic returning kicks and punts. Shall be fascinating to see how he handles the balls in the wind and cold weather. Helping his offense stay off the long field will be huge if he get bust off a couple of big returns.
THE COACHING MATCHUPS?..We know all about Belicheck’s mystique at Gillette Stadium..whether it is the (124-28) home record in the regular season, or (19-3) at home in the playoffs. A week’s bye to get healthy and to look at all things to attack Philip Rivers is huge for the Patriots. Anthony Lynn has changed the culture. His coordinators have been superb at creating things other teams cannot cope with. Lynn is (19-5) since mid November of 2017. Not bad at all.
HOW ABOUT TOM BRADY’S NUMBERS?..Same story, at home, a tremendously explosive quarterback. Brady is (134-21) at home…he’s (19-3) in the postseason there too. He had a (27-10) career postseason record and a (207-60) career won-lost record. Brady is (8-2) against the Chargers all time (19TD-11 Int) and is (2-0) in the postseason against the Bolts (4TD-6 Int)
WHAT DO RIVERS NUMBERS LOOK LIKE?..Spectacular if you are talking about Sunday to Sunday in the league this year. He’s now thrown 34-TDs this year, and nearly (4,500Y) passing. Sacks are down as are turnovers. But the history there is not good. Yes Rivers may be (5-5) in his post season career, but he’s (0-2) in the playoffs at New England, and (0-7) when going against Brady. Rivers has (10TD-10 Int-16 QB sacks) in those seven starts, and is (0-5) in New England. In the 7-losses, the Chargers defense has given up 30-30-32-33-37-40-50, so it hasn’t always been about what the Bolts QB has done..
WHAT SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE BOLTS?..The true health of RB-Melvin Gordon. Since coming back from the sprained knee, and then tweaking an ankle, he has had a huge drop off in productivity. Gordon has (46-touches for 163Y)…that’s just (3.5Y) per touch. And running mate Austin Ekeler has (16-touchhes-61Y)..(3.8Y) per play. And this from two guys who were averaging almost (6Y) per play thru much of the season. If they cannot be explosive then the Bolts have a problem.
IS THE CHARGERS OFFENSE STRUGGLING?..In Rivers last 5-games, he has just 4-TDs…5-interceptions…taken 11-QB sacks…In the last 3-games, the Chargers have averaged just (172YPG) passing against the Ravens and Broncos and Rivers has passing games of 160-176-181 the last three outings. Banged up players, shakey offensive line help, and lots of blitzing have caused all this.
WHAT’S THE WEATHER GOING TO BE-IMPACT THE CHARGERS?..They say 28-degrees and cloudy at kickoff with some wind, dropping to 18-degrees by mid afternoon. Football weather.
WHO WINS? ..Did you give them a chance in the other four venues they played in where they had hardly ever had success? If they can do it in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and then last week in Baltimore, why not this weekend, at that place, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.