AFC Championship: New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers
LT will bring the pain if he plays but can the rest of his team follow suit?
I don’t think most realize how nice a team the Chargers have. To win in Indy in January is a feat all its own–at least in recent memory–but to do this without Phillip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates at full strength is nothing short of miraculous.
Obviously, the Chargers defense has the daunting task of neutralizing the Pats high powered offense. If they can’t get pressure on Tom Brady, San Diego will get thoroughly embarrassed.
LT will do his thing if he can go. Regardless of his chill swerve, he wants to run over the Pats like any team he’s ever faced. Trust he remembers the Pats dancing on the Charger logo after a terrible defeat in last years playoffs. He will run hard today–regardless of injury. If his numbers approach anything close to what he’s capable of, this could get very interesting. Same thing with Gates–battling again a dislocated toe.
If LT can’t go, Michael Turner will show he’s an adequate backup.
On Defense, will Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman suddenly become an encapsulated hybrid of Deion Sanders and Lawrence Taylor for the Super Chargers to have a chance?
Yes. The versatile linebackers will have to be sick with their skills today.
It also remains to be seen how effective Antonio Cromartie will be covering Randy Moss. SD will disguise coverages with front four pressure in hopes of compromising the timing of Brady.
This has to be a four quarter effort by San Diego on all fronts.
The Chargers are athletic all over the field on D, so if the offense can muster any kind of consistency San Diego has more than just a chance to pull the upset.
Don’t deal with spreads here, but 14 points is way too much.
On offense the Pats will continue to keep the defense off balance with a combination of deep balls and running plays disguised as passes. I don’t think Lawrence Maroney will do anything unless New England gets out early.
Expect a heavy dose of Moss, Stallworth, Welker and Caldwell to wear down San Diego early so Brady can do his thing in the fourth. Another big key is Kevin Faulk. Faulk seems to show up big in games of this magnitude. Keep an eye on #33.
Rivers, LT and Gates will do all they can to remain on the field the entire game. It honestly is not the time to come with less than 100% effectiveness against a team battling the legacy of the sport.
Big game for both coaches. Will Norv Turner turn the corner or will Bill Belichick shut up all the haters?
New England 35, San Diego 24