From Boston To Cali, Cali To Boston



CHARGERS: What a win that was for them in Wild Card weekend. They returned the favor to the Baltimore Ravens and flew across the country to get their revenge on the team who beat them just two weeks ago. Rivers made his passes, the receivers handled their business, they were able to establish somewhat of a running game and the offensive line was able to control things up front. The defense really stepped it up in that game. They were the only team that saw Lamar Jackson more than once and you can tell with the game plan they had to really shut him down. They took away his running lanes, forced him to stay in the pocket to throw the football down the field, shut down the entire Baltimore ground attack along with dominating in the trenches. Melvin Ingram was all over the field for them on Sunday and had a huge game on a big stage. These Chargers are the perfect example of versatility on the defensive side of the ball. They had seven DBs on the field for 90 plus percent of their snaps against the Ravens! As a team overall, they can beat you in a variety of ways from the ground and pound aspect of running the football to attacking your secondary with the passing attack. Philip Rivers has been around for a while and has seen every coverage, look, blitz and defensive scheme imaginable. They’ve moved on to see another week and will look to advance to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2008. To get there, they will have to take on a team that’s been here many times.

PATRIOTS: They enter the playoffs as champions of the AFC East again (did you expect anything else?) and another first-round bye for the ninth straight season. To be honest, their chances looked slim when it came to them getting one of the top two seeds in the AFC playoffs after their loss to the Steelers in week 15. The Patriots lost two straight games in the month of December for the first time since 2002. The crazy thing is when the final month of the regular season rolls around, they’re usually in second gear just preparing to wrap up the division, clinch a playoff berth and one of the byes. They came back to life against the Bills and Jets ending the season with two wins and the game against the Jets to end the year was a game that was needed because that was their best effort I had seen probably since their game against the Vikings earlier in December. Just when you think they’re done, and they look defeated, here they are in a rhythm once again. Do not count this team out, ever! They will make you eat your words if you do. It doesn’t matter what their record is. The playoffs are a completely different ball game with them. With a win on Sunday, they will be in their ninth straight AFC Championship game.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyrell Williams– You know how there are those taller receivers that can take the top off any coverage on the field? That’s Tyrell Williams. This Chargers receiving core as I said up top has a lot of length. Keenan Allen is 6’2, Mike Williams is 6’4 as is Tyrell. The Chargers will use him in the slot, out wide and in different ways to attack the New England defense.

PATRIOTS PLAYER TO WATCH: James White– Outside of Gronk, he’s the one guy that you must really circle in on when you prepare to play the Patriots. He’s been their leading receiver this year. The Patriots running backs are important to the offense, especially in the short passing game. He’s so quick and when you look up, he can have eight or nine receptions in the game. He’s become just as important to their offense as Edelman and Gronk are.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I want you all to appreciate greatness. Sunday will be Tom Brady’s 38th playoff game. There are some teams who haven’t even seen been to the playoffs that many times as a franchise. This man by himself has all these appearances by himself. It’s remarkable. The match up to watch in this one is the Chargers defensive front against the legendary quarterback himself. Los Angeles was able to confuse Lamar Jackson last Sunday in which they used several defensive backs to infuse speed on the field to neutralize him. They may look to do the same this Sunday. The Chargers have allowed a total of 973 yards receiving to running backs. The Patriots love to check the ball down to their backs in space, especially James White so I expect New England to attack that early on. The Chargers need that same type of pass rush in this one. They have the formula to disrupt Brady with pressure up the middle and flushing him out the pocket. How will the Patriots slow down this Chargers passing attack? How do they match up with the length of these receivers?