Here at last is Trey Flowers’ chance to show the world exactly what he’s capable of. The Patriots defensive end is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so he knows the playoffs represent his best opportunity to showcase his quality of play to possible suitors around the league. Seize that opportunity, and he’s bound to cash in big, either with New England or with another team desperate to upgrade their roster at pass-rusher.
Flowers has flashed his potential all three seasons he’s played in the league, though he’s never quite established himself as a true game-changer. He averages 7 sacks and about 55 total tackles a year; both great numbers in their own right, but not quite where the NFL’s premier edge rushers rank.
For example, the great J.J. Watt averages 11.5 sacks and about 57 total tackles a year, and that’s taking into account his 2016 and 2017 seasons where he played just 3 and 5 games, respectively. Watt is obviously a lofty bar to hold his contemporaries against, but Flowers shouldn’t shy away from the comparison – he has the talent and pedigree to earn a spot at the big boys’ table and make himself a household name.
Flowers will line up against Chargers right tackle Sam Tevi, who has been battling a groin injury this week. If Tevi is anything less than 100%, that could set Flowers up for a huge day. Even against a healthy Tevi, Flowers has the clear edge.
Complicating matters further for the Patriots is the health of one of their own players, right defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. Wise is the only player still listed on New England’s injury report, and while it looks like he’ll play, he draws a tougher assignment against Chargers left tackle Russell Okung than Flowers draws in Tevi.
That puts even more of an onus on Flowers to beat his man and make life miserable for Rivers. Assuming Flowers treats Sunday like a coming-out party and a national audition for a massive payday increase this spring, the Patriots should prevail and make their way to an eighth consecutive conference title game appearance.