FOXBORO, Mass. — Sunday afternoon will be a battle of undefeateds, of sorts.
The Los Angeles Chargers will visit the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round with the winner inching one step closer to Super Bowl LIII.
When the final horn sounds Sunday, one team will experience a first this season.
After defeating the Baltimore Ravens, 23-17, in the wild-card round at M&T Bank Stadium, the Bolts now are 9-0 outside of Los Angeles this season. The Chargers’ only road loss came to the Los Angeles Rams, but they also won a home game in London against the Tennessee Titans. Meanwhile, the Patriots went a perfect 8-0 at home this season and earned a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive season.
LA’s success away from Southern California has galvanized the team, but quarterback Philip Rivers is aware of the tough task the road warriors face.
“This year we were a little more settled back in,” Rivers said Wednesday on a conference call. “As you’ve said, we’ve had some tough road trips. We’ve had to go across the country and had a home game in London and been all over so it’s a tough group, it’s a tough team, you know. We’re well aware the Patriots haven’t lost at home and we haven’t lost out of LA County so one of those streaks are going to be broken on Sunday.”
Rivers and the Chargers are the most complete team the Patriots will have faced to this point on the campaign. The veteran quarterback is surrounded by a bevy of offensive weapons, including running back Melvin Gordon, wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and tight end Antonio Gates. LA’s defense has two of the most-feared pass rushers in the league with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, and one of the more underrated secondaries in the lead, led by cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Desmond King and rookie safety Derwin James.
Gillette Stadium has brought out the Patriots’ A-Game this season, but the Chargers haven’t been phased on the road. Something has to give Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images