COSTA MESA, Calif. -- To be the best, you have to beat the best, and Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon succinctly summed up his team's approach to this offseason on social media this week.
Ight now back to hating NE .... bolt up— F L ⚡️ S H (@Melvingordon25) February 4, 2019
During the Pro Bowl, Gordon said he needed the New England Patriots to defeat the Los Angeles Rams because he couldn't have his crosstown rivals winning the Super Bowl.
With Gordon's wish granted after a 13-3 Patriots victory over the Rams on Sunday, New England has won six Super Bowls in 18 years while playing in the AFC Championship Game the last eight years.
If Gordon and the rest of his teammates want to reach the Super Bowl next season, they likely have to go through the Patriots.
Last year at this time, the focus for L.A. during the offseason was figuring out how to beat their AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs.
And while the Chiefs won their third straight division title under the guidance of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chargers managed to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City for the first time since 2014.
But the Patriots destroyed the Chargers in New England in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots led 38-7 midway through the third quarter.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said he and his coaching staff watched the disheartening loss on the way back home from New England, but will do a much deeper dive this offseason after coaching in the Pro Bowl last month.
"You have to evaluate that film," Lynn said. "My goodness, if you put yourself in that position and you don't succeed, you better learn something -- you better get something out of it.
"That's what we want to do. We'll figure out exactly what they did to us. ... I don't think you can just go play a game like that and be the same."
At the top of the list for the Chargers will be adding more depth at the second level defensively.
While successful in bottling up Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens' run-oriented attack, using seven defensive backs did not serve well against a New England offense that racked up 155 yards on the ground.
The Chargers also have to figure out a way to shut down talented slot receiver Julian Edelman and be more physical running the football to control time of possession.
Edelman had nine catches for 151 receiving yards in his playoff win over the Chargers.
"We knew what they were going to do," Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa said. "We knew Tom [Brady] was going to get the ball out quick. We were out of our gaps in the run game. We were a little better in the second half. I am proud of our defense and the way we fought in the second half. No one laid down. It's a matter of execution."
The Chargers also have to stay in the game long enough to take advantage of their talented running backs. They had to give up on the run against the Patriots because they were losing by so much so early and managed 19 rushing yards for the game.
Home-field advantage would help, too. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, from 2013 to 2017 nine of the 10 No. 1 seeds in the AFC or NFC reached the Super Bowl, so securing home-field advantage is crucial to playoff success.
"I don't think we're that far off," Rivers said. "I think it goes to show that it's a big deal to win the division, play at home and be the No. 1 seed."
The Chargers opened as 14-1 favorites at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the Super Bowl next season.