Philip Rivers has been a part of quite a few good teams during his long career with the Chargers. But there has been one thing that has been missing—postseason glory. He has led the team to a few playoff wins but not the one that matters, the Super Bowl.
His best chance to get there came back in 2007. But the Chargers lost in the AFC Championship game. The same team that brought the dream to an end then is going to try to end their season Sunday in the AFC Divisional Game, the New England Patriots.
This season, the Chargers have been good in just about every facet of the game. They may not be great at anything but being good at everything is even better. Teams haven’t been able to focus on stopping the Chargers run game (15th) or pass game (10th). They have to game plan for both.
The same can be said defensively since the Chargers have proven themselves to be capable against the run (ninth) and pass (ninth).
So, they appear to have the personnel to make a nice run deep into the playoffs. But there is just one problem—Philip Rivers has only been able to defeat the Patriots once and not while Tom Brady was lining up at quarterback.
Rivers is 1-7 against the Patriots and 0-7 against Tom Brady, but he isn’t letting history get to him (PFT):
“It’s not something you think about a whole lot. It exists, and it’s there but again, and I mean this, I don’t feel that I’m playing Tom….”
Philip Rivers career vs. #Patriots: 1-7*
*only win came in 2008, when Tom Brady was out for season w/ACL tear pic.twitter.com/lJD4TuhkUq
— Chris Brockman (@chrisbrockman) January 7, 2019
Could this be the year where he finally gets one over on Brady?
Statistically speaking, both teams have excellent offenses. Brady and the Patriots offense has been much-maligned throughout the year, but statistically, they are still in the top-ten for passing (eighth), rushing (fifth), and scoring (fourth).
The Chargers trail in each, but not by much.
The difference maker in this game, however, will likely be the defenses. Rivers may need to pass a lot more with Melvin Gordon dealing with knee issues. But that could be a good thing since defending against the pass is the weakness of the Patriots defense.
But then the X-factor in the game, Tom Brady, could decide everything. No one has a knack for figuring out how to move the ball against any defense quite like Brady does, especially in the playoffs. However, there is a way to neutralize him.
The key is the pass rush; you have to pressure him early and often, hit him when you can, and give him as little time as possible to work his magic. It worked for the Broncos a few years ago in the Super Bowl. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram applying the pressure, it could work for the Chargers.
"He’s going to be prepared, and they’re going to be prepared, so it will be a showdown."
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 11, 2019
So—who’s going to win? Oddsmakers seem to think the Patriots will and made them a four-point favorite. But this looks like a good game to take the underdog (Chargers) and the points.