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What the Chargers have to do to beat the Patriots

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers talks before their game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 7, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers talks before their game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 7, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The victory against the Baltimore Ravens was great, but things will only get harder every week for the Los Angeles Chargers.

In the victory against the Ravens, the Chargers showed many strengths, some of which were absent during the regular season. The defensive line stepped up to stop the run and have a sack party, while some rarely played defensive backs like Rayshawn Jenkins stepped into significant roles and played well.

Here are some things the Chargers will need to do this week to have a good shot against the New England Patriots.

Be Flexible

.@Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon goes stretching in the rain. #NFLminicamp pic.twitter.com/4ThJA5Mlmu

— NFL (@NFL) May 15, 2015

Against the Ravens, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley came up with a unique solution to solve the puzzle of stopping the Ravens’ running attack.

Instead of bulking up by loading the box with linebackers, Bradley ran a whopping 98.3% of defensive snaps with 7 defensive backs. That decision turned out to be genius, as having speed on the field helped contain Jackson and kept the Ravens’ offense in a rut.

As Bradley likely knows, a unique defensive game plan likely will not stop the New England Patriots. While another Bradley specialty could confuse the Patriots’ offense, Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick are known for making halftime adjustments. Bradley and others will need to be on their toes and ready to adapt to changing situations.

Stop the Patriots’ running game

If you look at the Patriots’ losses this season, opposing defenses generally did one thing well – they stopped the run.

With a minimum of five carries, only one Patriots loss had a New England rusher over 4 yards per carry. Against strong opponents like the Chargers, the Patriots have needed to be multi-dimensional on offense to win.

Tom Brady has not been able to carry this team as he has in the past. Furthermore, when weather conditions will be frigid and possibly snowy, it will be critical that the Chargers focus on stopping the Patriots’ running game rather than their passing game.

Win the turnover battle

Sorry to point out the obvious, but this point will be even more critical this week against an experienced playoff team. Last week, a fumble by Virgil Green and a blocked punt gave the Ravens great opportunities to score.

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The blocked punt turned into a missed 50-yard field goal, and Green’s fumble turned into just a field goal. Expect a more experienced team to be able to do more with turnovers.

The Chargers cannot make so many mistakes this week. What were three points last time could easily turn into a 14-point swing next time, not to mention the lost opportunity for points for the offense.

Even though it was just one win, this Chargers team has shown that it can be trusted. Philip Rivers does not have to be a hero to win any week. A team needs to have multiple ways to win in the postseason, and this team has that.

Just imagine the terror that this team can impose on another when firing on all cylinders. Here’s to some lightning this week in New England!

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