History will be on the line in more ways than one when the Los Angeles Chargers battle the New England Patriots on Sunday.
You’ve heard the narratives that are out there. Philip Rivers is 0-7 all-time against Tom Brady. The Patriots are perhaps more vulnerable for a team to come into Foxboro and knock them off in the postseason than ever.
Those have been two storylines talked about by every sports media outlet out there over the past week. However, Rivers isn’t going to care that he’s never beaten Brady. He knows this could be the dawn of a new day.
For nearly two decades, the Patriots have been the NFL’s dynasty and while many would argue, it’s the top dynasty the league has ever seen. The team has had more sustained success than the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s.
But just like those great teams, it came to an end at some point.
Though the Patriots deserves heaps of credit for keeping it going as long as they have, there are noticeable chinks in the armor. Brady is looking like a 41-year old quarterback. Rob Gronkowski seems to be on his last legs and the entire team just hasn’t functioned as smoothly as we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
This is why many are using the word “vulnerable” to describe these Patriots.
But don’t expect the Patriots to go down easily. They’ve been counted out many times before and still gone on to prove all their critics wrong and win the Super Bowl. That’s what makes it hard to count them out or call them vulnerable.
But this Chargers team is different. It might be the best bunch that Rivers has ever played with and if they are able to knock off the Patriots in a place where the combination of Brady and Bill Belichick have a postseason record of 19-3, it could signal the end of this dynasty.
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The Patriots aren’t going to be able to keep this up forever. They play in a weak division, which is a huge part of the reason that they are even in the playoffs this year. Brady is 41 years old and it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be better next season when he’s 42 years old. This might also be the last season for Gronkowski.
Take your mind back to January 14, 2007. That was arguably the worst loss in Chargers history. It’s likely that the feelings you experienced on that day, watching the Patriots dance and mock the Chargers on the field at Qualcomm Stadium, have never completely gone away.
This is a chance for the Chargers, 12 years later, to drive a stake into the New England dynasty. All things come to an end and sometimes, they do so in very poetic fashion.
The Chargers must respect the Patriots’ long history of success on the big stage, but the chance to deal a knockout blow is there.