I hate saying “I told you so.” I really do. But I told you that the
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers were not coming into Foxborough and beating the Patriots. What I didn’t know is that the game would be over by halftime.
When Sony Michel crossed the plane with just under two minutes to go in the second quarter, the Pats had punched a ticket to their eighth consecutive AFC Championship. There was no point in even coming out of the locker room after the break. The Chargers actually won the second half 21-6 but it didn’t matter. Nobody comes back from a 35-7 deficit in Foxborough in January.
The Chiefs at Arrowhead will be an entirely different animal, but it stands as yet another opportunity for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to prove doubters wrong. Ever since Trent Dilfer’s infamous “Patriots are not good anymore” rant more than four years ago, haters and media personalities (not always mutually exclusive) have all been desperate to be the first one who accurately predicts the Patriots demise. Max Kellerman has been swinging and missing on that take for two years now and he backed himself into a corner once again last week.
This is just a sample of what we heard leading up to last Sunday’s divisional round win:
Just a couple of guys who get paid to analyze sports but couldn’t have been more wrong in their assessment. Predictions don’t mean a damn thing, especially when it comes to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the postseason. You don’t make it to 13 AFC Championships and 8 Super Bowls strictly off of talent. Clearly there’s a boatload of intangibles that have been instilled in this team for the last 18 years. Picking the Chargers to win simply because they were the better team on paper was irresponsible, and so is giving the Patriots no chance to pull out a win at Arrowhead.
Sure, it’s been well-documented that Brady’s road playoff record is under .500 (3-4) and worse than that of Mark Sanchez (4-2). What should also be noted is that three out of Brady’s four losses came in Denver. That’s four losses in 18 seasons, with all but one coming in the same city. Far from a big enough sample size to make the claim that the Patriots can’t win on the road in January. If anyone has learned anything from watching the NFL this century, it should be that betting against the Pats is never a wise decision.
People have mocked Tom’s postgame interview in which he proclaimed “everyone thinks we suck”. While it was a bit overstated, the recent disrespect towards this team has been real. They’ve set such a ridiculously high standard that people are now under the illusion that 11-5 isn’t a good record. Sunday’s AFC Championship match-up will mark the first time in 68 games that they’ll be considered underdogs with Brady at quarterback, and the good news is that he’s clearly embracing that role. Being underappreciated is what has fueled this guy since day one.
It’s tough to disagree with the Chiefs being favored, but it’s also impossible to guarantee a victory for either side. The game plan defensively should be to force Mahomes out of the pocket and make him roll to his left as much as possible. Keep coming at him and making him uncomfortable you’ll put yourself in a good position to head back to the Super Bowl. It worked back in October and it can work again, plus the freezing cold temperatures should quiet the crowd just a bit. Pats by a touchdown.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour