Los Angeles Chargers’ (LAC) quarterback (QB) Philip Rivers can cement himself among all-time greats this Sunday as he will square-off against arguably the greatest (QB) of all-time, the New England Patriot’s (NE) Tom Brady.
Rivers, has done enough during the regular season to claim respectability in the football world however is postseason efforts are none to be proud of as he has a mediocre (4-4) overall postseason record. According to CBS Sports’ John Breech, Rivers has taken his team to the playoffs five times in his 15-year career: only to reach the American Football Conference (AFC) once and lose.
This playoff run is special for this organization as the team just moved to Los Angeles this offseason and were heavily shadowed by the Los Angeles Rams (LAR) during the move.
Recently, during week 15 the Chargers stunned the offensive powerhouse that is the Kansas City Chiefs (KC) upsetting them in high fashion with a 29-28 last second 2-point conversion. The Chargers haven’t been scared to experiment their schemes across the board to gain numbers win the column. So, with such high-volume talent they can set the tone and hold onto the pace of the game this Sunday in New England.
Rivers has many weapons and developed multiple go-to destinations when airing out the football. For starters, his top wide receivers (WR) played all 16 games this regular season. Beginning with (WR) Keenan Allen, he is healthy and producing. According to ESPN, he leads the team in receptions (97), first-downs (62) targets (136) and receiving yards (1,196). To go along with him fellow (WR) Mike Williams has hauled in 1o touchdowns (TD) this season and (WR) Tyrell Williams has been consistent all year in yards per game (YDS/G) and yards after the catch (YAC).
Running back (RB) Melvin Gordon not only rules the Chargers run game when he’s healthy, but also excels in the pass-catching game, which is the go-to strategy now more than ever in football. He’s put up 1,375 total yards and 14 total touchdowns in just 12 games this season, according to ESPN. Like the Patriots, the Chargers have the option of running back by committee just in case injuries occur with (RB)s Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson proven their worth as well as trust in the offense with Gordon out this season.
The Charger’s weren’t expected to go (12-4) this season and be as dynamic as they’ve been on all sides of the ball. They play a unique set on the defensive side, airing out most schemes with their top-tier defensive backs (DB) led by stand-out rookie safety (S) Derwin James.
Derwin James has been absolutely phenomenal. According to ESPN, he leads his team in tackles (105), interceptions (3), passes defended (13), and top-5 in sacks (3.5). He’s just one of the many talents that will make things difficult for their core wide-outs and star tight-end (TE) Rob Gronkowski.
With an overall group of defensive backs that consist of cornerback (CB) Desmond King, (CB) Michael Davis, (CB) Casey Hayward, (S) Adrian Phillips, (S) Jahleel Addae, and (S) Derwin James: the Chargers will have Tom Brady collapsing in the pocket with nowhere to throw. To add fuel to the fire, defensive end (DE) Melvin Ingram, (DE) Joey Boss, and linebacker (LB) Denzel Perryman will explode on the run game. Even though (LB) Jatavis Brown was put on injured-reserve (IR), players like (LB) Kyle Emanuel and (DE) Isaac Rochelle will step-up to unleash havoc.
For once the New England (NE) Patriots aren’t heavily favored. They are one of eight teams that look like they can reach the Super Bowl but they are one the more vulnerable teams.
They shifted their (RB) and (WR) situation so many times this year because unlike previous years they couldn’t establish solidified consistency. Top outlets in (WR) Julian Edelman and (TE) Gronkowski missed games that didn’t allow for them to provide Brady with their normality sense of trust. According to ESPN, Edelman still led the team with 850 yards and second in receiving touchdowns (6), while Gronkowski had a disappointing season.
Brady dealt with the disappointment of (WR) Chris Hogan and (WR) Phillip Dorsett playing all 16 games, although had little to show for it as they were both surpassed in receiving yards as well as touchdowns by (RB) James White. According to ESPN, White was second in targets and first downs to Edelman in the receiving game.
The fairytale story of (WR) Josh Gordon also came to an end in New England. He was brought in by the team where he flashed his potential like he’s done most of career, only to leave Brady once again in the struggle of a non-existent passing game.
As their passing game struggled, so did their run game. Rookie (RB) Sony Michel led the team often as lead back but once again each week brought questions to who can be trusted more.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots don’t pose a threat to hold back a skilled team like the Chargers. Head Coach (HC) Bill Belichick has a lot in-store for himself has the Chargers will be the team to beat this game.
Head Coach (HC) Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers is ready to continue his remarkable season as he even has former player (CB) Stephon Gilmore of the now New England Patriots praising his “no shortcuts” approach. Ultimately the football world could see a last minute offensive shoot-out that could see the Brady once again coming out on top just because of his history in tight games. For this not to occur the Chargers need to secure the wide-outs on third and long downs as well as shutdown any potential Gronkowski dominance.
However, if the Chargers stick to their gameplan and don’t turnover the ball, they’ll be headed into the AFC title game for the second time in the Rivers era with powerful momentum to carry them into the Super Bowl.
Rivers will do what only few quarterbacks have done and that’s take down the Brady-Belichick duo in the postseason: re-writing the career of Philip Rivers into first-ballot hall of fame discussion.