Will the Chargers play road warrior once again? Will the Patriots finally start playing like the Patriots? Breakout Live predicts the divisional playoff matchup between the Chargers and Patriots.
Chargers @ Patriots
Things seem to be shaping up perfectly for the Pats going into this game. Brady tapered off towards the end of the year, tossing 1 or fewer TDs in 6 of his last 9. Gronk has been a shell of himself. Josh Gordon is gone for good. And yet here they are, at home, as the 2-seed in the AFC with almost no one talking about them. In other words, Brady and Belichick have us all right where they want.
But nothing lasts forever (just ask my athletic ability), and this is the year the script gets flipped by the Chargers. I wrote in our Blowups earlier this week that a West Coast team traveling to Foxborough in January is a tough road to sled. Thing is, the Chargers are road warriors. That’s what happens when you play in that scrap heap they call StubHub Center — your entire season is essentially one long road trip. The Chargers are 8-1 on the road this year, including 3 successful trips to the East Coast, one to London and another to the Midwest and Arrowhead (where they handed the Chiefs their only home loss of the season). LA won’t be fazed by the moment.
I don’t love the matchup between New England’s stable of pass-catching backs and LA’s atrocious numbers defending pass-catching backs, but it’s about the only matchup that doesn’t favor LA in my opinion. That D will get after Brady and make him move in the pocket (which he hates), and they have so much talent on offense that it will be impossible for the Pats to key on any one guy, especially with TE Hunter Henry finally back in the fold.
It feels wrong to bet against the Pats in the postseason, and frankly it feels even worse to do so while riding the Chargers, one of the biggest choke artists in recent memory. But there’s just something that feels different about this Chargers team. Incredible toughness. Unreal resolve. And unparalleled talent. Yes, it feels wrong. Luckily for me, I rarely feel right.
Prediction: Chargers, 24-21