WHAT: AFC divisional round playoff

WHERE: Gillette Stadium

KICKOFF: 1:05 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: New England leads, 24-15-2

LAST MEETING: Oct. 29, 2017, won by New England, 21-13

TOP PLAYERS: Chargers – QB Philip Rivers (347 of 508, 4,308 yards, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions); RB Melvin Gordon (175 rushes, 885 yards, 10 touchdowns; 50 catches, 490 yards, 4 touchdowns); WR Keenan Allen (97 catches, 1,196 yards, 6 touchdowns); S Derwin James (105 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3.5 sacks); DE Melvin Ingram (43 tackles, 7 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss); DE Joey Bosa (23 tackles, 5.5 sacks); S/KR Desmond King (3 interceptions, 25.0 return average). Patriots – QB Tom Brady (375 of 570, 4,355 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions); RB James White (94 rushes, 425 yards, 5 touchdowns; 87 catches, 751 yards, 6 touchdowns); RB Sony Michel (209 rushes, 931 yards, 7 touchdowns); WR Julian Edelman (74 catches, 850 yards, 6 touchdowns); TE Rob Gronkowski (47 catches, 682 yards, 3 touchdowns); DE Trey Flowers (57 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles); CB Stephon Gilmore (45 tackles, 2 interceptions, 20 passes defended).

KEY STAT: 8 – The Patriots were 8-0 at home this year; the Chargers have won eight road games this year, including last weekend’s wild-card playoff.

OUTLOOK: The Patriots’ defense is going to have to play its best game of the season. Los Angeles has threats at every level of its offense and can dictate the tempo of a game in so many ways. The Chargers averaged 6.3 yards per play, third-best in the NFL this season. The Patriots’ defense ranked 20th, giving up 5.7 yards per play. A big key will be getting Rivers off his mark. He moves in the pocket well to avoid sacks but can be rushed into bad throws. The Chargers gave up 34 sacks this year while the Patriots had only 30. New England’s safeties will play a key role in attempting to slow down the receivers. Offensively, the Patriots need to find a way to slow Los Angeles’ pass rush. The Chargers had 38 sacks this year while New England gave up only 21. If Brady has time to find his receivers, the Patriots will be effective. Sony Michel needs to grind out some tough inside yardage as well, if only to keep the Chargers’ pass rushers from teeing off on every play. It’s almost imperative that the Patriots play with the lead. If they get too far behind, it might be too much to overcome against this defense.

OF NOTE: The Patriots are attempting to advance to their eighth consecutive AFC championship game, which would extend their NFL record. … The teams met in the 2007 AFC championship game with New England winning, 21-12. … Philip Rivers has never won a head-to-head game with Tom Brady, going 0-7. His lone win against the Patriots came in 2008, after Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury. … The Chargers’ wide receiver coach is Phil McGeoghan, the former University of Maine wide receiver and coach. … The Chargers had nine players selected to the Pro Bowl, the Patriots two.

— Mike Lowe