The Patriots went into the Divisional round at Gillette Stadium vs. the Chargers as the favorites. However, what would follow the opening kick-off for the next 3 hours was something nobody predicted. New England laid an absolute beat down on the Chargers, and the final score of 41-28 makes it sound closer than it really was, as a garbage time touchdown and 2-pt. conversion brought L.A within 13 when the game had alreadybeen long decided.
The Patriots hung 35 points on the Chargers at halftime, and scored four touchdowns on their first four drives of the game. Josh McDaniels had the playbook wide open, whether it was Brady picking apart the secondary, or Sony Michel ramming it down the throats of the Chargers front seven, it was a rout from the opening kickoff, and New England never looked back.
Brady finished the game completing 34 of his 44 pass attempts for 343 yards and a touchdown. In case the numbers don’t do his performance justice, it was clear from the opening drive Bradywas locked in all day. He continuously picked apart the Chargers zone that was ineffective all afternoon. It became so predictable in fact, it looked as though a high school team could’ve went out there and scored on them. Nonetheless, it was an absolutely beautiful display of football from the best to ever lace up a pair of cleats.
However, what was really eye opening was the fact that the Chargers didn’t make one single adjustment throughout the game to deviate from the zone and force Brady into something out of his comfort zone, or at least generate some pressure on him. Brady was pressured on just 6 of his 44 pass attempts on Sunday, while New England got in the face of Rivers on 36 of his 51 attempts. It resulted in the Patriots toying with L.A. all afternoon and getting whatever they wanted on both sides of the ball.
With the win, New England reached their 8th straight AFC championship game, and this Sunday will be Tom Brady’s 13th in the 17 full seasons he’s played.
Those are some stats to marvel at. Think about it. Brady has reached the championship game at a 76.4% rate, higher than a fair amount of NBA players free throw percentage.
New England is now faced with the tall task of traveling to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday to take on the likely NFL MVP Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs. It’s been known that New England has struggled on the road this season, mustering just 3 wins on their 8-game road schedule.
Arrowhead is one of the toughest stadiums to play in across the NFL, universally recognized as one of the loudest professional stadiums in sports. This week, the task won’t be any easier to complete, as the temperatures are expected to be between 0 and -10 with a windchill of -15.
Sorry Chiefs, bad news. Tom Brady is invincible in arctic temperatures, too. He’s 5-1 in games played at 20 degrees or lower. In those games, he’s completed 125 of 223 passes (56.1%) for 1,307 yards, with 10 TD and 4 INT. Three of the six games came in the playoffs, and Brady won two of them.
This also won’t be the first time these two teams have seen each other this season either. Back in week 6, Kansas City came into Foxboro on Sunday Night Football and put up a 40 spot on New England, but Brady still came out on top, leading yet another game winning drive in the final minutes.
If you want to take a look at stats for the two men under center in that game, here they are:
Brady: 24/35, 340 yds, TD, 109.7 QBR
Mahomes: 23/36, 352 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT, 110.0 QBR
If you want to base the game on stats, it’s similar to the Manning vs. Brady debate. Would you rather have the stats or the wins? I’ll take the wins, thank you very much.
This time around, both QB’s will be in search of the ‘W’ at all costs with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Should the Patriots emerge victorious, it would be Brady’s ninth (!) Super Bowl appearance, shattering the previous record of 8 held by Tom Brady. Funny.
If the Chiefs take care of business at home, it would be Mahomes’ first Super Bowl appearance in just his second season, his first as the full-time starter. But I want to take a look at the guys on the sidelines for a minute, the two head coaches, who are no strangers to each other might I add.
We know about Belichick’s track record, being one of the best coaches the sports world has ever seen. Andy Reid however, is under a lot of pressure this weekend to pull out a win. Reid has been criticized a lot throughout his 20-year NFL coaching tenure for his poor clock management skills and his inability to win “the big one”. Reid is in his 20th season and has appeared in just 1 Super Bowl.
Which he lost to Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Going into this weekend, the Chiefs are the favorites at home with the spread standing at (-3.0). What does that mean in terms of the game? Absolutely nothing. The better football team is the one who will be leaving Kansas City, MO with a Super Bowl berth. Sure, a little luck might be involved here and there keeping the weather conditions in mind, but this game will largely come down to who makes fewer mistakes.
And in the playoffs? There’s nobody I’d rather put my money on than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That’s why I’m predicting the dynasty will live on, and the Patriots will be headed to Atlanta for their third straight Super Bowl appearance.
-Brendan Howe is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan__Howe