L.A. Chargers Have a Better Chance of Upsetting the Patriots than You Might Think

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To quote the franchise’s iconic disco-era fight song, San Diego Super Chargers, “The time has come, You know we’re shooting for number one. With thunderbolts and lightning, We’ll light up the sky.”

While the song is now outdated due to the Chargers’ having since moved to Los Angeles, the message of the rouser that sounds like something which would end up on a Kool & The Gang outtakes album still applies. The time is here for the Chargers to shoot for another AFC championship, and the only to become #1 in the conference is to dethrone the New England Patriots.

Obviously, the odds are stacked against them though, and the weather doesn’t seem to be doing them any favors. The forecast at Gillette Stadium on Sunday calls for temperatures only in the low to mid 20s around kick-off time (1:05 EST, televised on CBS). That’s definitely Pats weather and not something favorable for the guys from SoCal.

The playoff schedule-makers haven’t done the #5 seed Chargers any favors either, putting them in the early east-coast window — a notoriously tough time slot for west-coast teams — in each of the first two rounds.

However, L.A. actually has a decent chance of pulling of the upset as a four-point road ‘dog in Foxborough this Sunday, so if you are considering wagering on them, first take a look at the these sports betting sites which were rated according to reputation, safety, promotions and others. The Patriots’ 8-0 record at home belies the myriad weaknesses of this team. While these are still the Patriots in January, they are noticeably not as strong as they have been in recent years. They were 21st in yards allowed (359.1) per game this season and 22nd in pass yards (246.4) allowed on average.

Those stats might be a bit misleading though as their scoring defense was still stellar at 20.3 ppg, good for seventh in the league. The #2 seed Patriots embodied the “bend but don’t break” cliche on defense, and the abundance of pass yards allowed versus their strong run defense (11th in the NFL) conveys how so many of their opponents were often far behind in games and needed to desperately play catch-up by scrapping the run and throwing the ball at will.

The Chargers have the stronger roster from top to bottom (as evidenced by the fact that they rank ahead of the Pats in both offensive and defensive DVOA). This is probably the strongest supporting cast that Chargers QB Philip Rivers has ever had.

If Anthony Lynn doesn’t get severely out-coached by Bill Belichick, L.A. should at least cover, if not win the game on the field. That said, the list of names that have been severely out-coached by Bill Belichick is long and distinguished.

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There is one match-up that jumps out as especially critical in this one. It’s Patriots QB Tom Brady versus the Chargers pass rush. The Pats must deal with two of the game’s best pass-rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, a tough assignment for anybody.

If the Patriots OL can be just above average on this day, and force enough stalemates at the line of scrimmage, then Brady should be able to pick the opposing back seven apart.

That’s a lot easier said then done though as the Chargers can easily generate pressure by just rushing just four guys. If they don’t have to blitz, it’ll be very advantageous for them. As this specific facet of the game goes, so will the ultimate result.

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It is worth noting that the Pats have owned this series, so betting against them still could be a somewhat perilous proposition.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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