X's and O's: Patriots vs Chargers

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The time is finally here, it playoff time for the New England Patriots. I couldn't be more excited for a football game. The Patriots host the Chargers in this divisional round matchup and it seems like nobody is confident in the Patriots, outside of Patriots fans. The Patriots are undefeated at home this season, 8-0, and the Chargers are undefeated on the road, 9-0, likely making this an exciting matchup.

The Chargers play a 4-3 front, with a cover 3 in the secondary. Cover-3 is when the defensive backs split the field into thirds. A weak zone in a cover-3 scheme is the seam. Gronk hasn't been himself this year and he could really make a difference if he would play like he has in the past. The L.A. Chargers rank in the top ten in the NFL in yards allowed per game in the regular season. They allow 333.7 total yards per game, 227.9 passing yards and 105.8 rushing yards. With that being said the Patriots are ranked in the top five for offensive yards per game. They average 266.1 passing yards and 127.3 rushing yards, which is also top five in the NFL. The Patriots have a lot of options today. The Chargers are probably preparing for the run more than the pass due to the Patriots lack of weapons at receiver. If the Pats decide to go pass heavy, the Patriots should run Gronkowski up the seam, have Dorsett/Patterson run a slant with Edelman following, filling the hole that Dorsett/Patterson created. Below is a picture of a cover-3 scheme.


The Chargers offense is very interesting. They fully rely on Phillip Rivers to make pre-snap decisions. The Chargers like to move Keenan Allen in motion, to identify possible man-to-man coverages. If the Patriots come out in zone, the Chargers will rely on their run game, their tight ends, and receivers running routes underneath the zone. The Patriots have been disguising their defense in a unique fashion. They have moved players like Devin McCourty, who is a strong safety, to middle linebacker and they dropped line backer Kyle Van Noy, who is a middle linebacker, to defensive end. The Patriots defense has come up huge for them all year and they could set the tone for the rest of the playoffs.

The Patriots need to come out quickly and make the Chargers play from behind. If the Pats gain the lead quickly, they can use their rushing attack to speed up the game and limit the amount of possessions that the Chargers get. I think that the Patriots win today 24-10. Gronk is gonna have a huge day. He gets two touchdowns, Michele gets one, and and Hogan gets one. The Pats defense also forces two turnovers. I think that the Patriots take an early 10-3 lead near the end of the first quarter and then don't look back from that point. I think we may see some trickery as well today. Maybe an Edelman pass to Hogan for a touchdown. Something of this nature.

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