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Gametime: Chargers at Patriots

The Game: AFC Championship Game – San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots
The Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
The Time: 3:00pm
The Channel: CBS
The Skinny: It’s not the dream epic match-up we all thought it would be, but the AFC Championship is still on the line today against the Chargers. The Colts were unable to beat the Bolts at home and so it would be unwise to take them lightly. The Pats looked very sharp last week against the Jaguars and playing at home in near below 0 temperatures they should be as jacked up as ever. Chargers QB Phillip Rivers and TE Antonio Gates are listed as doubtful, while RB Ladanian Tomlinson is listed as questionable. I expect all three to suit up, but as to how effective they are, we’ll see. The Chargers were able to pull out the gusty win at Indy without all three of their stars playing significant roles, but for Billy Volek and Michael Turner to break the Patriots undefeated streak would take something miraculous.

3 Keys to the Game:

  1. SET A HIGH PACE EARLY: With the injuries, the Chargers will try to keep the ball for as long as possible and slow the game down. With the wind chill supposed to dip below zero by kickoff, Rivers, Gates and LT will not want to be sitting on the sideline getting stiff. If the Pats can score some long drives early and make them count, the Chargers will be forced to abandon the run and Rivers could be a sitting duck.
  2. KEEP THE MARONEY TRAIN RUNNING: Maroney has run for more than 400 yards in the last four games and finally looks to be breaking out of his shell. The Patriots probably don’t need him to run for 100 yards to win the game, but no one really knows how the cold weather will effect Brady. He’s always said that wind is the only factor, and today it will be cold AND windy, with 25 MPH gusts expected. Who knows what Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has for a gameplan, but expect Maroney to be a big part of it.
  3. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE: When looking at the stats, the only significant advantage the Chargers have is in the turnover department. San Diego led the NFL in takeaways and haven’t lost a game when they win the turnover battle, and they will need plenty of takeaways to stay in the game. With Brady having only thrown eight interceptions on the season, they will need someone like Antonio Cromartie (who is a freak athlete) to make a game-changing play. On the defensive side, if the Pats can pick Rivers off early to shake his confidence, it could be lights out Chargers early on.

Prediction:

I’m headed to Foxborough to freeze shortly, and I do have to admit it’s not nearly the same as it would have been if the Pats and Colts were playing. But it is the AFC title game and the Patriots are 17-0 (also 10 straight home playoff wins) and are looking for their fourth Super Bowl title in seven years. It was something special to see the Bolts shock the Chargers with backups last week, but that was more of a choke by the Colts than anything else. The Patriots have match-up advantages all over the field, and the injuries woes for the Chargers could prove deadly. The Bolts had to fly from San Diego to Indy, back to San Diego than all the way to the East coast to play in freezing temperatures. If the Pats offense doesn’t turn it over it shouldn’t be close. Maroney should play another major role and run for nearly 100 yards, and the defense will be able to stifle a hobbled LT. I don’t see Rivers or LT playing more than three quarters. Big win for the Pats, bring on Arizona and 19-0!

Patriots 31, Chargers 17

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Discussion

One comment for “Gametime: Chargers at Patriots”

  1. I’m excited!!

    Posted by Chris | January 20, 2008, 1:17 pm

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