1. DON’T GET BEAT DEEP!!!! First of all, the wind could help make sure the San Diego secondary doesn’t get by the long ball. Led by Antonio Cromartie the cornerbacks have been playing pretty well of late but the safeties are going to have to pick up their game a lot in order to defend the most dangerous passing attack in the NFL. Marlon McCree and Clinton Hart have to play mistake free football because if they make just one mistake, chances are Tom Brady will make them pay. The LB’s are also going to have to do a good job of covering the underneath stuff so the safeties can focus on not getting beat by the deep ball.
2. RUN THE FOOTBALL. San Diego must keep the ball out of Brady’s hands and the best way to do that is to run the football successfully and drive the ball down the field while eating up clock. The Chargers will have a much better chance of winning the game if they can win the battle for time of possession. LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner will likely share a bulk of the carries as Tomlinson comes into this game banged up but that could be a good thing if Turner can wear down the D up the middle and keep LT fresh so he can be a threat to break a big one outside the tackles. Misdirection plays could also be a great way for the Bolts to have success on the ground because the New England LB’s are lacking in the speed department.
3. WIN ON 3RD DOWN. They must convert 3rd downs offensively and get stops on 3rd down defensively. Philip Rivers has been extremely efficient on 3rd down lately, especially last week in Indianapolis, and he must continue that on Sunday. Despite River’s recent success in 3rd and long situations they are going to have gain yards on 1st and 2nd down in order to keep them manageable.
4. SPECIAL TEAMS. This is the only match-up where San Diego has the edge over New England. The Chargers must capitalize on this and make big plays. Darren Sproles has been explosive of late and a few big returns from him could be the difference if the Chargers are going to win this game.
5. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE. This one is a “no brainer” because turnovers have such a huge effect on any game, but especially in the last 2 games between these teams. Last year in the playoffs a few late turnovers cost San Diego big and in this year’s regular season game early turnovers took the Chargers out of the game before they got into the second quarter.
The Chargers are going to have to do a lot and do it all well if they want to beat the Patriots. The Patriots are perfect for a reason but San Diego’s roster is still loaded with talent and they know they can compete with the New England players. The Patriots upset the Chargers last year in the playoffs, embarrassed them this season and are undefeated. There is no doubt that this is the perfect opportunity for sweet revenge.