The Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) head to Foxborough on Sunday to take on the New England Patriots (11-5) in the AFC Divisional Round. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 10:05 a.m. PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers quarterbacked the Bolts mere days after ACL surgery the last time the Chargers faced the Patriots in the playoffs back in 2008. He gets another crack at them 11 years later fresh off one of the best seasons of his career. Rivers completed 347 of 508 attempts (68.3 percent) for 4,308 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 picks for a 105.5 passer rating. His top weapon was Keenan Allen, who hauled in 97 passes for 1,196 yards and six touchdowns. Allen continued to make his presence felt in the postseason, tying for the team lead with four catches for 37 yards a week ago against the Baltimore Ravens. Antonio Gates and Austin Ekeler also had four receptions while Mike Williams paced the offense with 42 yards. On the ground, the Bolts are led by Melvin Gordon and Ekeler, who proved to be one of the league’s most dynamic duos in the regular season. Gordon pounded the rock 175 times during the regular season for 885 yards (5.1 ypc) and 10 touchdowns while adding 50 catches for 490 yards and another four scores. Meanwhile, Ekeler had 106 carries for 554 yards (5.2 ypc) and three touchdowns while catching 39 passes for 404 yards and an additional three scores.
On Offense for the Patriots
Tom Brady continues to carve up opponents at 41 years of age, completing 375 of 570 attempts (65.8 percent) for 4,355 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 97.7 passer rating. Julian Edelman led the team in receiving yards (850) and ranked second in receptions (74) despite missing the first four games of the season while the ever-dangerous Rob Gronkowski finished third on the Pats with 47 receptions for 682 yards. Meanwhile, New England boasts perhaps the deepest and most versatile running backs room led by Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead. Michel authored a dynamic rookie season for the Patriots, leading the team with 209 carries for 931 yards (4.5 ypc) and six touchdowns. His 209 carries were 114 more than the next closest player, White, who toted the rock 94 times for 425 yards (4.5 ypc) and five touchdowns. In addition, White led the team with 87 receptions for 751 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. Finally, although Burkhead missed most of the season, he made a difference whenever he suited up. The veteran toted the rock 57 times for 186 yards (3.3 ypc) while catching 14 passes for 131 yards and a TD.
On Defense for the Chargers
The Bolts are fresh off their finest defensive performance in postseason history as they completely stymied the Ravens. They wreaked havoc on the quarterback, totaling seven sacks on the day led by Melvin Ingram who recorded a pair. Ingram also paced the team during the regular season with 7.5 sacks, followed closely by Joey Bosa (5.5) and Isaac Rochell (5.0). “SupaMel” also led the team with seven tackles last week, but Derwin James held that distinction during the regular season as he became the first rookie in team history to top the century mark on the year.
On Defense for the Patriots
New England got to the quarterback 30 times during the regular season, led by the dangerous Trey Flowers (7.5), Deatrich Wise (4.5) and Kyle Van Noy (3.5). Van Noy also racked up a team-high 92 tackles while Duron Harmon led the way with four interceptions. Meanwhile, former Charger Lawrence Guy has emerged as an integral part of New England’s defensive line, totaling 59 tackles and one sack from the interior.
The Chargers and Patriots have met 41 times with New England holding a 24-15-2 all-time advantage. The Patriots won the last meeting, 21-13, in New England on Oct. 29, 2017. The two franchises have met three times in the playoffs with the Patriots holding a 2-1 advantage. New England downed the Bolts, 21-12, in the AFC Championship Game in 2008 and 24-21 in the Divisional Round in 2007. The Chargers won the AFL Championship on Jan. 5, 1964 by defeating the Boston Patriots, 51-10.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 11th in total offense (372.6 yards per game), 10th in passing (255.6 ypg), 15th in rushing (117.1 ypg) and sixth in points (26.8). The Patriots rank fifth in total offense (393.4 ypg), eighth in passing (266.1 ypg), fifth in rushing (127.3 ypg) and fourth in points (27.2).
Defensively, the Bolts rank ninth in total defense (333.7 ypg), ninth in passing (227.9 ypg), ninth in rushing (105.8 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (20.6). New England ranks 21st in total defense (359.1 ypg), 22nd in passing (246.6 ypg), 11th in rushing (112.7 ypg) and seventh in points allowed (20.3).
Milestones on the Horizon
Keenan Allen needs 100 more receiving yards to reach 300 for his postseason career, becoming the eighth player to do so in franchise postseason history.
Allen needs two touchdown catches to reach four for his postseason career, which would tie him with Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner and Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow for the most in team postseason history.
Allen needs 100-plus receiving yards to post the second 100-yard game of his postseason career, which would tie WR Wes Chandler, WR Vincent Jackson, Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner and Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow for the most 100-yard performances in team postseason history.
Antonio Gates needs ﬁve receiving yards to reach 504 for his postseason career and pass WR Vincent Jackson (503) for second in team postseason history.
Gates needs 41 receiving yards to reach 540 for his postseason career and pass Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner (539) for the most in team postseason history.
Gates needs four catches to reach 50 for his postseason career and pass Heath Miller for seventh in career postseason receptions by a tight end in history.
Gates needs six catches to reach 52 and pass Keith Jackson for the sixth-most career postseason receptions by a tight end in history.
Philip Rivers needs two touchdown passes to reach 13 postseason passing scores for his career, passing Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts (12) for the most in team postseason history. It would mark his fourth multi-touchdown postseason game, tying Fouts for the most in team postseason history.
Rivers needs three touchdown passes to record the third three-touchdown postseason game of his career, setting a record for the most in Chargers postseason history.
Michael Badgley needs nine points scored to reach 24 for the postseason, which would set an all-time record for points scored by a rookie kicker through the divisional round of the playoffs (Stephen Gostkowski, 23 in 2006).
Melvin Ingram needs a sack to reach three for this postseason, which would be the most in a single postseason by a Charger in history (DE Burt Grossman had 2.5 in 1992 postseason).
Ingram needs 1.5 sacks to pass DT Shawn Lee for the most in team postseason history.
Joey Bosa needs two sacks to tie DT Shawn Lee for the most in team postseason history.
Noteworthy vs. the Patriots
Philip Rivers has faced the Patriots eight times during his career and had three games with more than 300 yards passing. Against New England, Rivers is 170 for 279 for 2,041 yards and 10 touchdowns. In one of the gutsiest performances in NFL history, Rivers, playing on a torn ACL, and less than a week after getting his knee scoped, attempted 37 passes and threw for 211 yards in the Conference Championship Game on Jan. 20, 2008.
Antonio Gates has totaled 36 catches for 407 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots in nine career games. In the two postseason matchups, Gates hauled in eight passes for 78 yards.
Melvin Gordon broke an 87-yard run for a score to tie a franchise record in his lone appearance against the Patriots. Gordon ﬁnished with 132 yards and the ground and averaged 9.4 yards per carry.
Adrian Phillips set a career high with 12 total tackles in the 2017 matchup.
Patriots DL Lawrence Guy played for the Chargers for two seasons (2013-14).
CBS – Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline) and Jay Feeley (sideline)
KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across ten radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD-AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville) and KATY-FM (San Bernardino). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).
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