It’ll be New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Chargers for a spot in the AFC Championship Game.
The Chargers defeated the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 on Sunday in the wild-card round, setting up a divisional-round matchup with the second-seeded Patriots next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff for that game is set for 1 p.m. ET.
Utilizing a defense that featured seven defensive backs on nearly every snap, the Chargers dominated the Ravens’ run-heavy offense for much of the afternoon, holding Baltimore to just three first downs over its first 10 possessions.
Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was sacked seven times, threw an interception and fumbled three times, led the Ravens on two late touchdown drives but could not close the gap.
L.A.’s offense also struggled to move the ball against an elite Baltimore D, with quarterback Philip Rivers tallying just 160 passing yards and running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 28 attempts.
Gordon scored the Chargers’ lone touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Rookie kicker Michael Badgley provided the rest of the team’s points by going 5-for-6 on field-goal attempts.
The Chargers’ 12-4 record during the regular season was tied for the best in the AFC, but they were forced to play on wild-card weekend after losing the tiebreaker to the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs. They’ve faced the Patriots just once in the last four seasons, losing 21-13 in Foxboro, Mass., midway through the 2017 campaign.
The Patriots and Chargers have met twice in the postseason during the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, with New England winning 24-21 on the road in the 2006 divisional round and 21-12 at home in the 2007 AFC Championship Game.
Rivers is 1-7 against the Patriots in his NFL career, with his lone win coming while Brady was sidelined in 2008.
A win next Sunday would send the Patriots to their eighth consecutive AFC title game. They’re 7-0 in the divisional round since 2010, including five wins by double digits.
New England also was the only team to finish with a perfect 8-0 record at home this season.
The No. 1 seed Chiefs will host the sixth-seeded Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in the AFC’s other divisional-round clash. The Colts cruised to a 21-7 road victory over the Houston Texans to open the weekend’s wild-card slate.