The New England Patriots look to continue their AFC dominance when they host the LA Chargers in the divisional round Sunday. The Patriots have played in seven consecutive AFC Championship games, and a win over the Chargers sends them to their eighth in their pursuit of another Super Bowl championship. The Chargers’ 2019 NFL Playoff betting win at Baltimore last week was more dominant than the 23-17 final score indicates, as Los Angeles shut down rookie QB Lamar Jackson and created turnovers while building a 23-3 lead midway through the 4th quarter. Now they travel again and go from facing an incompetent rookie QB that doesn’t protect the football to the precision passing of one of the game’s all-time greats in Tom Brady. Do the Chargers have enough energy to take down the powerful Patriots who are rested and ready with an extra week to prepare?
2019 NFL PLAYOFF BETTING
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
Sunday, January 13th – Gillette Stadium 1:05pm ET
Odds: New England -4 (47)
The Chargers are now 9-1 SU/ATS on the road this season, and 15-year veteran QB Philip Rivers is having one his finest seasons. The December travel schedule that carried into last week gets even tougher for the Chargers again as they return to Foxboro. But having one of the game’s most fierce competitors at quarterback will benefit the Chargers, as QB Rivers tries to snap an 0-7 skid against the Patriots during his career. He and the Chargers will have to do it in freezing temperatures that will be below 30 degrees Sunday. Running back Melvin Gordon should play, but he’s hobbled by a sprained knee suffered in last week’s win. But he’ll be a factor, as will the talented Chargers receivers. Recall too that Gordon rushed 14 times for 132 yards and busted a big run against the Patriots on this field last season. Still, Rivers and the defense will need to deliver if they plan to pull the upset against a Patriots team that is at their best at home in the playoffs.
A few keys to beating Patriots teams over the years under coach Belichick: One is to have physicality along the offensive line to sustain drives and assist with field position. The other is a good, strong pass rush to pressure and harass QB Tom Brady. The Chargers have both, and a top-tier, experienced quarterback to make the passes and deliver the ball quickly and accurately as needed. They’re also getting a decent cushion in 2019 NFL Playoff betting line, which has attracted some early action.
While New England won a record 10th consecutive AFC division title this season and were the only NFL team to go 8-0 at home, it was again versus a weak AFC East division and the No. 31 schedule strength in the NFL according to Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. New England’s defense was still deficient finishing in the bottom third of the league allowing 359.1 yards per game. The Patriots offense averaged 393.4 yards per game this season, but Brady will now face one of the stronger pass rushes and pass into a Chargers secondary that features two young and talented Pro Bowl players.
Coaching and preparation is clearly in the Patriots favor. The 2019 NFL Playoff betting line has also dropped, providing less value for Chargers betting backers as the weekend approaches. Still, feeling is an upset is possible and the end of a dominant Patriots dynasty could crumble soon. Take a 7-iron swing on the Chargers if you bet it, and watch Rivers, 37 and Brady, 41 square off in what will be the oldest combined age for two starting quarterbacks in NFL playoff history.
ATS Notes: The Chargers are 9-1 SU/ATS on the road this season. Since 2001, the Patriots are 10-2 SU and 5-6-1 ATS at home in the playoffs when playing in sub-30 degree temperatures. One of those ATS losses was to the Chargers in the 2008 AFC Championship game when Rivers was playing on a torn ACL and nearly made the Super Bowl which has eluded him during his 15-year career.
2019 NFL Playoff Betting Free Pick – Los Angeles Chargers +4.0
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.