Patriots

Patriots

No one in New England is taking the Los Angeles Chargers lightly.

But Jerod Mayo sounds seriously concerned about a potential upset in Foxboro on Sunday.

During Tuesday's episode of "The Quick Slants Podcast" with Tom E. Curran, the former Patriots linebacker laid out why the Chargers are the worst possible draw for New England in the AFC Divisional Round.

For Mayo, Los Angeles' greatest strength is its defensive front, which boasts talented edge rushers in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and will get defensive tackle Brandon Mebane back after he missed the Chargers' Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens.

"Getting a guy like Mebane back, having those guys on the edge -- they're good against the run." Mayo said. "These guys are able to control the front."

Mayo then issued a warning to the Patriots' offense.

"If you go out there and average 3 yards a carry, this game will be over by halftime."

That's a pretty hot take considering New England is undefeated at Gillette Stadium this season and has lost to the Chargers just once in the teams' last eight meetings.

But there are numbers to back up Mayo's claim: The Patriots were 1-3 this season when they averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per rush, and they failed to reach 100 total rushing yards in all five of their losses.

New England did find success in the run game down the stretch, amassing 404 total rushing yards against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in Weeks 16 and 17. They'll have their work cut out for them Sunday, though, as L.A. held the Ravens to 3.9 yards per carry last weekend.

 

The Patriots will need a solid passing attack to open up the run, but the Chargers' secondary is no cakewalk, either. In fact, Mayo said he could "totally see" tight end Rob Gronkowski be a "non-factor" if Pro Bowl safety Derwin James shuts him down.

In short: Buckle up for a competitive game in Foxboro on Sunday afternoon.

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