2018 AFC Playoffs

Bedard: Tom Brady, Patriots offense will need to answer long-lingering questions to navigate Chargers

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Taking a break from watching film on the Chargers to give you some thoughts on factors that will shape Sunday's AFC divisional game between New England and L.A. Let's start with the Patriots' offense vs. the Chargers D.

To (sub)run or not (sub)run

In my mind, if there's been one constant when it comes to reasons the Patriots bowed out before the Super Bowl in recent years (2015, '13, '12, '10) it's been this: When the opponents have played coverage with multiple defensive backs on the field, the Patriots either have been unwilling or ineffective with their runs against those subpackages.

You'll hear a lot of talk this week about the Patriots' history against the Seahawks' Cover 3 (former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley heads San Diego's defense) and how they'll just throw to the running backs all day long. No question, New England has done that in the past. The backs got 14 of Tom Brady's 32 completions against the Chargers last year in the Patriots' 21-13 victory. Just take a look at Brady's spray chart from that game -- just seven of his 32 completions were beyond 10 yards.

But know this: the Chargers have done a ton of adjusting this season when it comes to that.