The Los Angeles Chargers are scheduled to face the New England Patriots this Sunday in a divisional playoff game.
After a thrilling and at times, dominant win over the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round, things will only get tougher this weekend against the team that has owned the AFC for what seems like forever.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be looking to qualify for the AFC Championship Game for the 13th time and remarkably, the eighth time in a row. That’s absurd. The only thing standing in their way is a Chargers team that oh, by the way, has not lost a game played outside of Los Angeles this season.
The Chargers and Patriots aren’t bitter rivals. But the “Patriot way” is something many NFL fans have rolled their eyes at for years. Fans want some new blood at the top. A good portion of fans, regardless of which team they root for during the season, want to see the Patriots toppled.
It looked like this would be the year that happened. The Patriots haven’t been as crisp as usual. Their execution has been flawed and even when they have won, it hasn’t been in the dominant fashion we’re used to seeing.
They were soundly defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. The Detroit Lions held them to one of the ugliest performances in Brady’s career the following week. Though they rebounded from that, they were dominated by the Tennessee Titans and later in the season, gave up the kind of game-ending play against the Miami Dolphins you never dreamed of against a team coached by Belichick.
Yet here they are.
The Patriots are the No. 2 seed in the AFC and are one win away from yet another AFC title game. The only thing standing in their way is the Chargers.
The Chargers and Patriots have squared off in the playoffs three times, dating all the way back to the AFL days. The stakes have always been big and the Chargers have experienced both great triumph and extreme tragedy against the team many football fans love to hate.