Can the Chargers Succeed Back-to-Back Weeks on the East Coast?

Can the Chargers Succeed Back-to-Back Weeks on the East Coast? article feature image

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17).

  • The Los Angeles Chargers are playing their second consecutive game on the east coast in the playoffs this week as 4-point underdogs against the Patriots.
  • Only two other West Coast teams since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 have played consecutive early playoff games on the east coast and none sine 1989.

In the Wild Card round, all the talk around the NFL village was how the Los Angeles Chargers would perform having to play on the east coast after playing on the road in Denver and needing a win the week before.

For Philip Rivers, the veteran quarterback in the playoffs without a Super Bowl ring, this may be his best opportunity to not only return to the Conference Championship game, but get to his first Super Bowl ring.

After defeating the Ravens in Baltimore last week, the Chargers are attempting to make history in New England on Sunday.

Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the Chargers will be just the third West Coast team to play consecutive playoff games on the East Coast in an early time slot (1:30 p.m. ET or earlier):

  • 1989-90: Los Angeles Rams traveled to Philadelphia in the Wild Card round and beat the Eagles 21-7 as 2.5-point underdogs. Then, in the Divisional Round, L.A. traveled to New York to face the Giants as 3.5-point underdogs and beat the G-Men in overtime behind a Flipper Anderson 30-yard touchdown pass to Jim Everett. A week later, the Rams lost the Conference Championship game on the road in San Francisco to the eventual Super Bowl champs, the 49ers.
  • 1982-83: After a strike-shortened season in 1982, the San Diego Chargers traveled to Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round and beat the Steelers 31-28 as 1.5-point underdogs. Then, in the Divisional Round, the Chargers traveled down to Miami to face Don Shula and the Dolphins as 1.5-point road favorites (pretty amazing) and lost 34-13, being outscored 24-0 by the middle of the second quarter.

Philip Rivers has played five playoff games on the east coast in his career with the Chargers and he is 4-1 against the spread, covering the number by 9.5 points per game.  Since 2012, Rivers is 9-3 ATS when playing on the road against a team over .500 in the Eastern time zone, the most profitable quarterback for bettors over that span.

Since Dec. 1st of last season, Philip Rivers has played four games on the road with a starting time of earlier than 2 p.m. ET, the Chargers are 4-0 straight up, winning by 12 points per game.

At the half of all four of those road games in this spot, the Chargers led their opponents 68-12, not allowing a touchdown in the eight quarters.

According to my colleague John Ewing, West Coast teams have performed very well against the spread when playing consecutive games in the Eastern time zone:

After defeating the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday, the Chargers made the decision to travel back to Southern California to Los Angeles — which I think many would think is a questionable decision.

In Tom Brady’s career at home in the postseason, he is 19-3 straight up and 12-9-1 against the spread. All three straight up losses have come against Eastern time zone teams — New York Jets once and the Baltimore Ravens twice.

Brady has faced six teams based outside the Eastern time zone at home in the playoffs and he is 6-0 straight up and 4-1-1 against the spread, with his only loss against the spread coming as a 14-point favorite in the 2007-08 Conference Championship against the Chargers.

Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17)

Brady has never quite faced a road juggernaut like the Chargers at home, though. With Brady at quarterback, the Patriots have faced 22 opponents in Foxborough in the playoffs, none had a road against the spread winning percentage as high as the Chargers this season (88%).

Four teams had a road ATS mark of 75% entering New England in the playoffs though and it did not turn out so well for them:

  • 2012-13: Tim Tebow and the Broncos lost 45-10 as 14-point underdogs
  • 2006-07: Chad Pennington and the Jets lost 37-16 as 9.5-point underdogs
  • 2005-06: Byron Leftwich and the Jaguars lost 28-3 as 7.5-point underdogs
  • 2003-04: Peyton Manning the Colts lost 24-14 as 3.5-point underdogs