The 2018 NFL Divisional round playoff matchups kick off on Sunday at 1:05pm ET as the Los Angeles Chargers look to pick up their second straight road contest on the east coast against the New England Patriots. In a contest that features possible hall of fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. For these two teams the matchup could come down to whichever quarterback puts together the better game on the field.
For Rivers this will be a difficult task as the Chargers quarterback has struggled to lead them to victories against this Patriots team. This will mark the seventh time Rivers has faced the Patriots in his career picking up just one win over the previous six matchups. In those contests Rivers passed for 1,600 yards to go with 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions and four fumbles. Meanwhile, Brady has posted a 6-2 mark in his eight career starts against the Chargers while thrown for 2,452 yards with 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
As all eyes will be on these All-Pro quarterbacks on Sunday, one name that should be at the tops of everybody’s minds is Melvin Ingram. Ingram who posted seven tackles, two sacks, one fumble recovery and a forced fumble was too much for the Baltimore Ravens in their wild card matchup. The big question leading into this matchup is will the Patriots offensive line slow down Ingram and Joey Bosa?
Here are the keys to the game for both the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots on Sunday January 13th, 2019 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
NFL Keys to the Game
Los Angeles Chargers – Rivers, Chargers Wake Up
The Chargers dominated the Ravens in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs but their offense struggled at times while settling to four field goals before finding the end zone. The end result was a win, but much of their success came as their defense shut down the Ravens offense and Lamar Jackson. This week the Rivers and the Chargers offense will need to make big plays while converting inside the red zone. For Rivers that will include finding a way to get Keenan Allen the ball early and often as well as many times as possible.
New England Patriots – Speed Up the Tempo
For the Patriots, no game looks to be a difficult matchup as they can lineup and beat any team in the NFL. That said, on Sunday the team will need to get creative, play fast while also speeding up the tempo on the offensive side of the ball while trying to wear out the talented defensive group of players the Chargers have. One method the Patriots have had a ton of success with over the career of Brady’s is running the hurry up without substituting their personal will limit the Chargers options on defense. The other option is throwing quick passes to limit the amount of times the Chargers defenders have to get to Brady. If the Patriots can speed up the tempo they should pick up the win at home.
NFL Betting Trends
Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers enter the divisional round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs red hot winning eight of their previous ten contests while covering the spread in seven. Along with that success the Chargers have been dominant on the road this season for sports handicappers winning eight of their nine road contests. Along with that success, the Chargers have covered the spread in four straight games against teams with a winning home record as well as in five of their last six road playoff contests.
New England Patriots – Year in and year out all the Patriots do is win, win at home and make the playoffs. That same result showed up this season as the Patriots finished 11-5 overall while covering the spread in nine of their 16 regular season while dominating at home against the spread (6-2 ATS, 8-0 overall). The Patriots have also dominated of late covering the spread in five of their last seven games as well as in seven of their last 10 playoff games and in six of their last seven divisional round matchups.
Head 2 Head – After facing off six times from 2007 to 2011 including two seasons with regular and post season contests, the two teams have faced off just twice since. In each of those contests the Patriots picked up the win including a 21-13 win at home back during the 2017 NFL Schedule.