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Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006

    Why To Watch
    Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, will go up against the NFL's fifth-ranked run defense. New England QB Tom Brady looks poised to make another great run in the playoffs, as he was almost flawless in a wild-card win over the Jets. San Diego QB Philip Rivers played better in Week 17 against Arizona, but overall he has not played well over the past month. This will be Rivers' first taste of the postseason, and it will come against a Bill Belichick-coached defense. Belichick does an excellent job of putting his guys in position to succeed and has made even the most seasoned QBs struggle in the playoffs.

    When the Patriots have the ball
    Rushing: New England finished the regular season with the 12th-ranked run offense in the NFL. San Diego finished seventh vs. the run. The Patriots, for the most part, have become a run-first, pass-second team. However, in Sunday's 37-16 victory over the Jets, they used the pass to set up the run but still finished with 38 rushes for 158 yards. Against the Chargers, we think the Patriots will take a similar approach and try to soften up the Chargers' attacking front seven with the pass. The big key to the Patriots' run game will be the ability of C Dan Koppen to handle San Diego NT Jamal Williams in the trenches. Williams is big, physical and a load to move at the point of attack.
    For New England to run well in this game, it will have to be between the tackles. The Chargers have too much speed for New England to try to get outside. One big surprise versus the Jets was that Corey Dillon had only 10 carries to rookie Laurence Maroney's 18. Expect that trend to continue this week. Although Dillon is the more physical inside runner, he does not have much burst, wiggle or big-play ability at this point of his career. And Maroney has shown the toughness to run between the tackles. San Diego will have to play honest with a seven-man front because of Brady's ability. This should allow the Pats to establish a run game once they loosen up San Diego's defense.

    Passing: Despite having limited weapons, Brady and the Patriots had the 12th-ranked passing offense this season. That ranking is a tribute to Brady and his being the best QB in the NFL. He has a knack for taking average to below-average players and making them better. That is exactly what he did versus the Jets. Brady made WR Jabar Gaffney look like an All-Pro. Brady will have to have another excellent game against San Diego. We expect the Patriots to establish the pass early in an effort to get the Chargers back on their heels a little bit. We think the Patriots will once again spread the field and will use a lot of shotgun formations.

    The strength of the San Diego defense is the front seven. If New England is going to move the ball consistently through the air, it will have to widen out San Diego's 3-4 defense. The Chargers like to bring pressure off the edge with OLBs Shawne Merriman (17 sacks) and Shaun Phillips (11 sacks). From the shotgun, Brady will get good looks on underneath out-routes and crossing-routes as he tries to beat the blitz pressure. If the Chargers have a weakness on defense, it is the secondary. Due to the shotgun and Brady's quick release, the Patriots can pose some problems for the Chargers despite not having a lot of weapons on the outside.

    When the Chargers have the ball
    Rushing: We can't call into question the season LaDainian Tomlinson has had, but on tape we have noticed a few things the Patriots will pick up on. The Patriots will use a lot of computer analysis in trying to determine where and when Tomlinson is going to get the football. The biggest tendency we see on tape is that the Chargers rarely run the ball to the side of the field where TE Antonio Gates is aligned. In other words, Gates is not at the point of attack. This is something the Patriots and their coaches will see on tape, and that will give them a slight advantage in at least trying to guess where Tomlinson goes. The Chargers have a very good offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, and often teams will go back and check their tendencies during an off week. If the Chargers did that, they will see that they have become a little too predictable of late and should be able to make the proper adjustments.

    Defensively, the Patriots will be as prepared as any team that has faced Tomlinson. Coach Bill Belichick does an excellent job of putting his players in position to succeed. Look for New England to blitz more on early downs to disrupt the rhythm and timing of the Chargers' offense. The Patriots are physical up front with DE Richard Seymour, NT Vince Wilfork and DE Ty Warren, so they must come off the ball hard and create gaps for their linebackers to run through. The Chargers will try to counter by getting Tomlinson out on the perimeter versus a New England defense that lacks overall team speed.

    Passing: It was somewhat of a struggle for Philip Rivers down the stretch. He has been seeing a lot more pressure in the second half of the season as teams have been blitzed to slow down Tomlinson and continue on to the QB. That pressure has frustrated Rivers a little bit, and we have seen him lose his composure at times. The other big issue is that other than Gates, Rivers does not have a consistent weapon on the outside. Young receiver Vincent Jackson has been Rivers' main target of late. Jackson will need to make some plays on the outside to take some pressure off Gates, who will have to play a big role if the Chargers are going to reach the Super Bowl. We look for Cameron to be even more active this week in terms of moving Gates around. That pre-snap movement should help Rivers get a better indication as to what kind of coverage he is going to get at the snap. It will also keep the Patriots' defense on its heels.

    Another key factor will be the health of SS Rodney Harrison. The Patriots' secondary was in disarray at times versus the Jets because he was not directing traffic. If he is out, that will bode well for Gates making more plays in the middle of the field. If the Patriots have a weakness on defense, it is their overall team speed. The Chargers need to get the ball in their playmakers' hands and allow them to make plays after the catch.
  2. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers..F the LA Chargers, Go Irish Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

    Jun 20, 2005
    Thanks Conc!
  3. reef shark

    reef shark BoltTalker

    Sep 22, 2006
    x-factors (insider)
    New England at San Diego
    New England C Dan Koppen: If you want to be productive on offense versus the Chargers, it has to start in the middle. San Diego NT Jamal Williams is just a beast inside. If Koppen can't handle him, the Patriots will have trouble getting anything going on the ground or through the air.

    San Diego LOT Marcus McNeill: The rookie has been excellent this season, but he will have a big challenge this week. He will have to handle Pro Bowl RDE Richard Seymour in the run game and ROLB Rosevelt Colvin (8.5 sacks) on passing downs. Can young McNeill rise to the challenge?

    koppen vs. jamal is huge for us. i think koppen gives up almost 30 lbs. if they dont double jamal, maroney and dillon will finish with negative yards rushing

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