Philip Rivers

USA Today

Rivers v. Brady

Chargers v. Pats is awesome.

January 11, 2019 - 12:50 pm

You know as soon as the clock hit triple zeroes in Baltimore Philip Rivers and the Chargers started thinking about this game. Rivers v. Brady is legendary. Chargers v. Pats is awesome.  

It’s Philip Rivers returning to the stadium where he played in an AFC championship game six days after tearing an ACL and a meniscus. I’ll repeat that for the people in the back: Philip Rivers played less than a week after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee. 

What does he remember about that game? "Honestly, it wasn't crazy pain. It kind of buckled a few times in the game, but I really was thankful. Throughout the course of the game, I didn't feel like it hindered me as much as I anticipated.”

That’s a dude out there, on a shredded knee. On the field, where 11 other guys are trying kill him…and maybe shred his other knee. But he’s quote, thankful? I shred my knee, and I’m not going to work. And I’m definitely not thankful. But my man makes it out like it’s a GOOD THING. And that’s because this dude is different than most of us. Tougher than most of us. And in league of the toughest dudes in the world, he’s right near the top of that list. And so is every other dude in that Charger locker room. That TEAM is tough.  And that’s what makes this group different than previous Charger teams. Not only are they better, and more talented. They’re absolutely tougher. 

They’re are tough as hell. They’ve gone on the road to Buffalo, Cleveland, Seattle, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver, and Baltimore and won in each place. They’re used to long flights to games and victory flights home from them.

And you know they’d like nothing better than to add New England to that list. And it says here. They’ve got the team that can do it. Yeah I said it. Rivers is playing like a man on a mission…better than he ever has… and yes...  as well or better than Brady right now.  And this time, Rivers has better talent and more weapons than he’s ever had even if Melvin Gordon’s Uber driver didn’t want to acknowledge it and they get after you on defense with their d-line and their secondary. It’s a disruptive defense that can create pressure for Brady; with no less than three guys who get to him. They can get pressure without bringing extra pressure, which is always key against TB12.

And here’s another thing: they’re really well coached. Really, really well coached. Just as I’ve been saying that Rivers doesn’t get nearly enough respect, Anthony Lynn doesn’t get nearly enough respect. The job that he did last year turning the season around after the brutal start doesn’t get talked about enough and what he’s done this year is just as good, if not better. 

The adjustments LA made on both sides of the ball from the first Ravens game to the second were huge. Anthony Lynn out-coached John Harbaugh and John Harbaugh has a Super Bowl ring. So what I’m saying is that while everyone is looking for the next Sean McVay, you might want to look around for the next Anthony Lynn. Because the man can coach.

Oh, and did I mention that the Chargers are tough? Because they are. Good thing too.  Because now they’re traveling to the toughest place they could find this season – New England.

For all the talk that the Patriots aren’t the Patriots this year, here’s something very Patriots: they’re 8-0 at home this year. And they’ve won 8 straight playoff games at home. Foxborough is still a nightmare for opposing teams. Especially in January. You do not go in there and win. The closest thing to a lock in that sport, is the Patriots, coming off a bye, and hosting a divisional game in the postseason. 

And yet…the Patriots really haven’t looked like the Patriots this year. Gronk is banged up. The extra week of rest will definitely help him, but he could probably use another week. Or a month. Or an offseason. And if he isn’t himself, the Patriots aren’t themselves. The Patriots pass rush is an issue. Their passing game hasn’t been sharp. They’re going to need a helluva lot of Sony Michel to pull this off. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see a healthy dose of James White as a receiver out of the backfield.

You never want to face Bill Belichick when he has an extra week. And you never want to make back-to-back East Coast trips. 

So to recap: 

New England: 8-0 at home

New England: 8 straight playoff wins at home

Rivers 0-7 versus Brady over the course of his career

All the numbers point in one direction. Which is why I’m going the other way. 

Because something is telling me this Chargers team is different, this Patriots team is different, and this game will be different. Philip Rivers does not need this game for his resume. That game on the shredded stick made him a legend. He’s a Hall of Fame lock already. He doesn’t need this, but he wants it. In the worst way. And it’s his best team and best chance to get it.

And it says here, he will.

Everything should say Patriots, but something’s telling me Chargers. This is the team to get it done and this is the year to do it. And if they do what I think they’re going to do, you better believe the Super Chargers theme song will be bumping on Monday. I’m riding with the Chargers. I’m taking the Bolts to go in there and shock the world. And if I’m wrong, so be it. But you know I’m usually right.