The Patriots’ divisional matchup with the Chargers kicks off at 1:05 p.m. The game will air on CBS. The game-time temperature is projected to be about 25, but it will feel like 18.
Patriots: Keionta Davis, DL. Stephen Anderson, TE. James Ferentz, OL. Ufomba Kamalu, DL. Obi Melifonwu, DB. Duke Dawson, DB. Deatrich Wise, DL.
Chargers: Sean Culkin, TE. Detrez Newsome, RB. Cole Toner, C. Forrest Lamp, G. Dylan Cantrell, WR. Anthony Lanier, DE. T.Y. McGill, DT.
■ Although it has been talked about all season, the NFL Network on Sunday reported that tight end Rob Gronkowski will strongly weigh retirement when this season is done.
1. Electric avenue: The defense must get Tom Brady off his spot. If he’s given the time or is allowed to step up and deliver strikes, he will rock on through this defense.
2. Electric atmosphere: Don’t fall behind. The Chargers have been tremendous on the road, but Gillette Stadium is no ordinary venue. Follow the game plan from Baltimore and don’t freak out.
3. Electric blanket: Contain James White. The Chargers have had trouble containing receivers out of the backfield, and they’ll face a huge challenge with Sweet Feet. Get him on the ground quickly or he’ll be dancing all afternoon.
1. Red-hot take: This team can’t settle for field goals when it reaches the red zone. It’s been an area of trouble at times this season, but touchdowns win playoff games, so empty the playbook and get the 7.
2. Red-hot take II: Bend but don’t break when the Chargers get to the red zone. Los Angeles scored just one touchdown in three trips last week. Another performance like that and the Chargers will fizzle.
3. Red army: New England’s versatile safety trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon has to support the troops near the line of scrimmage while also helping out over the top.
■ What experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game
■ Our football writers answered eight questions on this matchup.
■ Chad Finn’s Unconventional Preview: This contest will make some history we won’t soon forget, and three players to watch not named Tom Brady.
■ How much really separates the Patriots and Chargers? Alex Speier dove into the numbers, examining the Chargers’ record in cold weather, their record in 1 p.m. East Coast games, the role turnovers have played in their season, their blitzing tendencies, and their ground game.
■ Christopher L. Gasper: Do you believe? Do you believe the Patriots will summon their best football for the playoffs simply by virtue of being the Patriots? That it’s an ingrained, automatic response to a special occasion, no different than blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Right now, belief outstrips proof for these Patriots.
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■ Don’t expect to see much of that seven defensive back grouping from the Chargers in the AFC divisional-round game Sunday. The Patriots have the personnel to force the Chargers into putting their linebackers, who represent the weakness in their defense, on the field. What remains to be seen is if the New England running backs can take advantage of it.
■ Melvin Gordon thinks James White should get more carries. Stephon Gilmore still sees the quickness of a guy recruited as a safety in Melvin Ingram. We asked former college teammates from the Patriots and Chargers to scout each other.
■ Tara Sullivan talked to Stephen Gostkowski and Lawrence Tynes about the pressure on NFL kickers in the playoffs and going from revered to reviled — or vice versa — with one swing of the leg.
■ Brian Flores’s story, from Brooklyn to BC to the Patriots, was impeccably told last February by Sullivan. And it’s a great one to revisit now in what could be one of his final weeks in Foxborough, as the Dolphins have reportedly narrowed the focus of their head coaching search to Flores.
■ Sarah Thomas will become the first woman to work an NFL playoff game Sunday, when she serves as a down judge in Patriots-Chargers. Here is what a few Patriots players said about it.
■ Will tight end Hunter Henry play? “We’ll see,’’ he said with a smile.
■ Philip Rivers wears the same hat every day of the week. He wears it to practice, he wears it around the house, he wears it to each postgame news conference.
“I have it on right now,’’ Rivers said Wednesday.
The hat adorns a Latin phrase: “Nunc Coepi.’’
“It just means, ‘Now I begin,’ I think in its most literal terms,’’ Rivers said. “It’s a different way of saying, one play at a time. You begin new no matter what. I use it in my personal life as well, family life, prayer life, whatever it is. You begin again. Good or bad day, or good play or bad play, or whatever it is. You have a chance to get back up and begin again. It’s something that’s really stuck with me.’’