The Patriots came into the Divisional Round of the playoffs ready to host yet another game in Foxborough.
They were given no chance against the Chargers but came out with a purpose. Whether it was the travel, the weather or not being prepared, Los Angeles was not ready for what they ran into.
The Patriots scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game and went into halftime with a 35-7 lead. It seemed as if the game was over before the Chargers got a chance to finish stretching.
The final score read 41-28 but the game was over at halftime. The Chargers were able to make the final score respectable but anyone who watched knew that New England blew them out from the beginning. Philip Rivers fell to 0-8 against Tom Brady.
Now, the Patriots will be playing in their eighth straight AFC Championship Game next week in Kansas City. The Chiefs feature one of the top offenses in the league. They are coming off an impressive win against the Colts in the Divisional Round but they will face a different animal this week.
Many have thought that this is the Patriots down year but they can easily go into Arrowhead and take down the Chiefs.
3. Post-Game Comments
After another dominating playoff win, Brady had some interesting comments in his on-field interview. Brady followed up a win with saying that he is aware of the criticism.
More specifically, he said, “I know everyone thinks we suck and can’t win games.”
What does this show? Motivation. The Patriots have heard everything that critics have to say and hear it every year. They answer that criticism with Super Bowl appearances and they are on their way to another this year.
This season saw New England end 11-5 and yet again win the poor AFC East division. They suffered ugly losses to the Lions and Titans and were victims of a miracle play in Miami. No one gave them a chance against the Chargers despite being at home and they answered. Los Angeles got carved up to the tune of 498 total yards and 155 yards rushing.
Brady finished 34-44 for 343 yards and a touchdown. He picked apart the Chargers’ zone defense and hit wide open receivers all game. James White finished with 15 receptions on the day. The Patriots’ run game opened up a lot in play-action. Sony Michel finished with 129 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. This was a clinic put on by New England.
The best coach and quarterback duo of all time is a different animal when the playoffs roll around. The regular season does not matter.
The words that Brady said and the tone he used shows that he is aware and motivated.
The bear has been poked and that is dangerous for the rest of the playoff teams.
2. The Run Game
If there has been any knock on New England, it has been that they have not had a consistent run game.
They never seem to keep a running back around for long for whatever reason. From Stevan Ridley to LeGarrette Blount, it has been a non-stop carousel in the backfield. White is now a staple of this offense but is used more as a receiver.
New England drafted Sony Michel with hopes that he would end this cycle. In his first postseason game, he made fans optimistic moving forward.
Michel dominated the Chargers defense with 129 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry. This is a dangerous tool for the Patriots. They are a team that uses quick, short passes to the flat as an extension of their run game. If they establish a consistent run game, no one will be able to stop them.
The Chargers came in with a questionable game plan. Brady was last in the league this year against the blitz. Knowing that, Los Angeles needed to apply pressure all game and take their chances.
Instead, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley opted to rush three or four and sit back in a zone. Brady proceeded to pick apart that zone which could have been seen a mile away.
The Chiefs’ defense has been faulty all season but they held Marlon Mack to just 46 yards on the ground.
After this performance, Michel will be busy again in their next game especially with the weather in Kansas City. A successful run game will eat up the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
If they execute their game plan, the Patriots will be hard to knock out.
There is no doubt that the Patriots have built one of the most dominating franchises in sports history. They are a dynasty that people are waiting to end.
There are two reasons that they are still dominant: coach and quarterback.
Despite their age, Brady and Belichick have evolved in the NFL and continued to win in the playoffs.
Let’s start with the quarterback. Brady has started 38 games in the playoffs, 11 more than any other quarterback ever. Brady has 28 wins in the playoffs as a starter, this is 12 more than any other quarterback ever. He has over 10,000 passing yards in the postseason and 72 touchdowns.
Combine this with five Super Bowl wins and you get the best quarterback to ever play. He will be going against Mahomes who is most likely the league MVP but will only be starting his second playoff game.
Some see this as a passing of the torch but it is anything but. Even if he loses, Brady will be around for a long time.
Now the coaching matchup. Belichick has built something in New England that cannot be matched. Belichick is 28-11 in the playoffs as a head coach. He has been with Brady since the beginning. Together they have been to eight Super Bowls and are 5-3 in those games.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been a great coach for a long time but his postseason resume is not as long. He led the Eagles to four NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl which they lost.
This will be his first AFC title game as the coach in Kansas City. The Chiefs have blown multiple games in the postseason under Reid, and they believe this is their year.
If you combine experience with motivation, a strong game plan, and Brady, you get another Super Bowl where the Patriots will be one of the participants.