2018 AFC Playoffs

Bedard: Facing Ravens twice will likely help Chargers against Patriots’ pressure package

(Getty Images)

One of the keys to the Patriots' resurgence defensively since the bye week — when they've gone from 15th in scoring to seventh, and 25th in passing yards to 12th — has been their third-down pressure package.

Call it what you want — we've gone with amoeba around here as the Patriots walk people around and then attack protections with various pressures. But at the end of the day, there's no doubt it's been a highly effective tool for Brian Flores. Part of the success is due to the fact it's somewhat unique and tough to prepare for on a short game week.

And normally, that would be to the Patriots' advantage heading into the AFC divisional game against the Chargers, as New England is coming off a bye and Los Angeles had to win to advance.

But that won't be the case this week.

The Chargers' offense, especially the line, couldn't have had a better tuneup than playing the Ravens twice in the previous three weeks. Baltimore runs a very similar pressure package — with better personnel (they're a top 3 defense for a reason) — compared to what the Patriots have done in recent weeks.

Even worse for New England: the Ravens exposed the flaws in the Chargers' protection in the first game between the two teams. And Los Angeles adjusted in the second meeting, a big reason why the Chargers will be facing the Patriots on Sunday and not Baltimore.