San Diego @ New England AFC Championship Game Preview

January 15, 2008 at 11:12 am (Sports thoughts)

It’s only Tuesday and yet these type of articles are already finding their way out of New England (Thanks albino, Former champ and all).

I expect there to be a lot of talk about how great the Patriots are. No other team has ever been able to do what they have done over the course of an entire season. However what I cannot understand is all the talk about how bad the Chargers are, or rather how poorly they match up with the Patriots.

I’ve had some success on this blog using my own non-professional, subjective, coach-potato skillz in predicting outcomes (I predicted 90 Padres wins, they had 89. I’m 14 and 4 on my pre-season Chargers predictions and 7 of 8 on NFL playoff predictions). I don’t just throw darts at a board in coming up with these, instead I do three things in approaching the selection of winners.

A) a “positional analysis” by which I compare the players of each team to their opposition.

B) I watch ESPN, NFL network and MSNBC and listen to what the experts say because, unlike me, they are paid professionals with a wealth of football knowledge and experience and they have in uncanny ability to predict outcomes.
C) I usually try little thing called “bone casting” where I repeat some incantation and throw bones of a rat into a pile and then attempt to read the future they tell me.

but alas,

“The bones tell me nothing”

So I’m going to have to try my old “Positional Analysis” scorecard.

OFFENSE-

QB- Without question the most important position on the field. The Patriots have a guy named Tom Brady. He’s good. Really good. In fact his last game he actually threw a “perfect game”. While usually that is reserved for baseball pitchers Tom Brady did it in football. Mad props to him.

The Chargers have a guy named Philip Rivers who is pretty darn good himself. His last game was only a hair below being “perfect” but unfortunately it was cut short by a strained MCL in his knee which also makes him questionable for this Sunday’s game. While the injury report will have him listed as “questionable” I have no doubt about it, he starts, even though limited by this injury.

ADVANTAGE: + 12 Patriots, duh. Even if Rivers was totally healthy this is a decided advantage for the New Englanders.

RB- The Patriots main running back is Laurance Maroney. he’s a decent back who would probably benefit from being a team that actually cared to run the ball. NE will probably run the ball between 20-25 times making him almost a non-factor. However they also line up Kevin Faulk on occasions who will often make catches out of the backfield in the flats and on screens. The two of them are decent enough.

The Chargers on the other hand have a tremendous backfield that is truly the strength of the team. Even with LT injured the Chargers have a great duo of Michael Turner and Darren Sproles who can pound the ball inside or burn you on the outside. LT will play but will have far fewer touches than he would if his knee wasn’t hurt. This may be an advantage to the Chargers because it gives the Pats much more to game plan for and think about.

ADVANTAGE: + 6 Chargers.

WR- The Patriots Randy Moss had the second greatest year of any receiver in history. He’s tall, fast and has great hands. He’s phenomenal. The other receiver making all the noise is a little kid named Wes Welker. He’s a little slot receiver who is usually matched up with a linebacker on short routes. Needless to say he gets a lot of balls thrown his way. The other outside receiver is Donte Stallworth. Another tall, fast receiver, who would will never be double covered which makes him a guy who will be targeted often.

The Chargers made a big trade in the middle of the season to acquire Chris Chambers. This trade has paid off as Chambers has not only been the favorite target of Rivers but he has also taken the burden off of the shoulders of Vincent Jackson who has shown up huge in the playoffs. Jackson is a big guy with great speed but had difficulty dealing with double coverage. Now he’s rarely double covered and can often be seen “out muscleling” smaller defensive backs. The Chargers also feature a rookie named Buster Davis. Davis still needs time to become a big time receiver but in spread formation he can be a threat to stretch the defense.

ADVANTAGE: + 8 Patriots. Some might argue for a bigger Pats advantage but they would have had to have had more TD catches in their playoff victory against the Jags to earn a bigger advantage. They had 1, the Chargers has 2. The Chargers were going against a better pass defense.

TE-The Pats feature a duo of Ben Watson and Kyle Brady. Both are decent Tight Ends who benefit from the Wide Receiver threat of the Pats and are virtually never covered with more than a linebacker. Watson scored two TD’s against the Jags, both in the back of the end zone in single coverage from inside the 10 yard line.

The Chargers offensive strength for the past several seasons has been Antonio Gates. He’s so big, fast and skilled he constantly requires a double team. But he’s hurt pretty bad and is much less mobile than he could be. Thus no more double team and no more advantage to the rest of the offense. The Bolts also have a beefy blocking TE named Brandon Hummahummanupanupaapuua or something like that. Even though he is better listed as a part of the O-line I have distinct memories of a guy named Alfred Pupunu every time I think of him. Pupunu, you may recall, scored a TD in the Chargers AFC title game against Pittsburgh in 1994 (He only scored 3 others in his entire NFL career).

ADVANTAGE: + 5 Chargers. With Gates hurting this may seem a bit high but I think 2 weeks of resting his toe is going to have him at 90% come game time and drawing double coverage by the second half.

OL- The Offensive Line has been a strength for both of these teams throughout the regular and post season. The Pats OL only gave up 21 sacks during the regular season. The Chargers? Just 24. Since the Patriots dropped back far more often than the Chargers (over 100 times) we will say they are better at pass protection, but since the Chargers ran for more yards (about 200) we’ll say they are better at running the football.

ADVANTAGE: None. This is a wash. Both teams have great line play.

Overall offensive advantage- Patriots 9 points.

DEFENSE-

Secondary- The Patriots secondary is small or old. They have a shut down corner in Asante Samuel and tremendous leadership in Rodney Harrison but even with Samuel’s 10 picks they only have 19 on the season I’d like to say more about them but I can’t think of anything that stands out.

The Chargers also have a guy with 10 picks, his name is Antonio Cromartie and he is one of the 5 best athletes in all of football. They have another solid cornerback in Quentin Jammer who actually grades out the higher than Cromartie after each game. A former starter who will get a ton of playing time against the Pats spread offense in Florence. At safety Marlon McCree has hurt the team almost all year, but he finally made a play last week against Indy by jarring the ball loose on a pass to Reggie Wayne. Clinton Hart has been terrific and Eric Weddle is playing far beyond a “rookie” at this stage in the season. The Chargers had 30 INT’s during the regular season.

ADVANTAGE: + 6 Chargers.

Line Backers- The Patriots feature Adailus Thomas, Teddy Brusci, Junior Seau and Mike Vrabel. They combined for 24 sacks, but 13 of those went to Vrable. This is the oldest line backing crew in football which means they won’t be fooled by anything but also means they can wear down physically by the end of a close game.

The Chargers line backing crew of Merriman, Phillips, Wilhelm and Cooper also combined for 24 sacks. They are much younger than the Patriots LB’s which is good because they will be asked to do a lot more pass coverage. Physically they are faster, younger and in better condition.

ADVANTAGE: + 1 What the Pats gain in experience they loose in physical abilities.

Defensive Line- The Patriots have a great nose tackle in Vince Wilfork but after him the rest are pretty anonymous. The lineman with the most sacks on their team is a guy who only comes in on passing downs Jarvis Green with 6.5.

The Chargers line features Perennial Pro-Bowler Jamal Williams in the middle with Igor Olshanksy and Luis Castillo on the ends. But what matters more to the Chargers line isn’t those three but the depth behind them in McKinney, Cesaire and Bingham, who will rotate in and out with the other three like a hockey line.

ADVANTAGE: +3 Chargers. This is based simply on depth.

Overall defensive advantage- Chargers 10 points

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker- The Patriots have a second year pro named Gostkowski who was 21 of 24 during the regular season but never attempted a kick under 20 yards or over 50.

The Chargers kicker, Kaeding, went 24 for 27 but has missed a kick in every playoff game he’s ever played in.

ADVANTAGE: + 3 Patriots. This is more because of the injury than the history.

Punter- The Patriots don’t punt so it’s hardly an issue.

The Chargers punter Scifres, is the best in the league, but you’d prefer to never have to use him. Nevertheless he has won games by putting Chargers opponents in bad positions.

ADVANTAGE: +1 Chargers

Return Game- Both teams returned 2 for touchdowns but only the Patriots allowed one to be returned on them. As far as yardage goes it’s a wash. as far as individual play makers go you’d probably prefer Darren Sproles and Antonio Cromartie to Ellis Hobbs and Wes Welker.

ADVANTAGE: +1 Chargers.

Overall special teams advantage- Patriots 1 point.

Total of all three aspects of the game- 23 points to 23 points!

It’s a tie! wow! I wasn’t expecting that. This game is going to overtime folks. As we know in the NFL overtime rules give a huge advantage to the pure luck winner of the coin toss. But for those of us who don’t believe in luck we can say the coin toss is actually decided by the Head Coach.

For those brave souls who have made it this far into the post I give you a link to exclusive youtube footage of Bill Belichick and Norv Turner in a coin toss to see who “wins everything”.

Call it.

Watch this.

Then Comment.

This is going to be one heck of a football game.

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67 Comments

  1. danielbalc said,

    I of course accurately predicted the coin toss so that means the Chargers get the ball and win on a wide reciever reverse to Buster Davis that goes for 72 yards.

    Final Score-Chargers 29 Patriots 23

  2. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    As I did with the college bowl picks which is to use a far less scientific method than yours I randomly say the score will be…

    31-27 Chargers Win!!!

  3. Matt said,

    The more important question is where are we going to watch the game? It happens to be at the perfect time so no church responsibilties will be affected.

    If you don’t have plans and don’t like watching football alone lets plan a viewing party.My parents house is always open (I hope).

  4. Bruce S. said,

    Even Vegas seems to be forgetting the most important factor that y’all are overlooking: the weather. They currently have the Pats winning 31-17. But with snow, ice and wind I can’t see either that many points being scored or the Chargers losing by that much. I’d be curious to see the line move as the game nears and the weather prognostications start becoming certainties. Under the right weather conditions and allowing for unbiased refereeing, the Chargers could make it a game.

  5. amyleesspace said,

    I think it will be an awesome game, My guess the score will be 38-21 PATRIOTS ROCKING THE HOUSE!

    The weather is suppose to be bad, but the Pats are used the these weather conditions, Chargers are not however. It will be a good game and I am soo excited for it. We are watching it at Ray and Evies home, I am sure any that would like join are welcome 🙂 But PLEASE when we win, don’t bring me down ok 🙂

  6. danielbalc said,

    Hold on a sec folks, I need to see your coin toss predictions.

    If you watched the clip you know that you’re playing for everything. I can’t call it for you, it wouldn’t be fair, you have to call it.

    You stand to win everything. Call it.

  7. Albino Hayford said,

    Just saw that movie today. Terrible ending.

    As to the Patriots/Chargers game, I have been stunned by the total lack of respect in the Boston Herald for the Chargers (as I posted at the Charger’s prediction post). If the Chargers have any pride at all, they will come out furious and disrespected. Once again, Bruce stumbles into the truth; the weather will have a HUGE impact, but if the refs are again biased, it may not be enough. I have no prediction (look for one on Saturday).

  8. danielbalc said,

    Terrible ending.

    It was based on a book and the ending is (they say) the last page of the book verbatim.

    Is it really like that over there?

  9. Albino Hayford said,

    I didn’t say the movie was bad…I thought it was excellent…really lowers you in to life in West Texas, which is desolate and bare, and the accents of the locals were spot on. I live in a very different part of Texas, but I’ve passed through those towns many times, and I know quite a few people who have lived there. Cowboy hats, boots and guns are common and actually used by the Texans in the West, not like the urban cowboys of Austin and Dallas who are “all hat and no cattle”. Of course, the film says nothing of the deep river of Christianity that runs through West Texas…so many God-fearing Texans and lots of churches.

    By the way, George W. grew up in the Midland/Odessa area when his dad was in the oil business (or “awl bidness” as the locals would say it).

    Excellent movie…bad ending…

  10. danielbalc said,

    “awl bidness” and “deep river of Christianity” happen to be the topics of the Citizen Cane like, “there will be blood”. Which also was shot in west texas.

    Creepy string music throughout this movie will bug the heck out of you, but Daniel Day-Lewis provides one of the best acting performances you will ever see.

    http://imdb.com/title/tt0469494/trailers-screenplay-E36196-314

  11. Former FFL Champ said,

    Tails

  12. Matt said,

    The reason Philip Rivers is so cocky is because he is a super hero…..

    look here- http://www.sportsline.com/

    …and then here for proof- http://www.spacelawstation.com/lightyear.jpg

    …The article is good too.

  13. danielbalc said,

    Unable to criticize Rivers performances any more the national media has taken to a new tactic. Criticizing his personality.

    http://sportsline.com/columns/story/10580654

    These kind of stories crack me up. He goes on and one about how much Rivers “talks” and yet provides not a single actual quote from him.

    He compares him to Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Jerry Porter. If you have the time go ahead and compare their actual quotes and see if that’s a fair comparison.

    http://thinkexist.com/quotes/Terrell_Owens/

    http://thinkexist.com/quotes/chad_johnson/

    http://thinkexist.com/quotes/jerry_porter/

    http://thinkexist.com/quotes/philip_rivers/

    So rivers yelled at some fans who were applauding him being injured. So what?
    He looked at Jay Cutler while giving props to Shaun Phillips. And?

    The only quote I can think of Rivers ever saying anything negative about anyone else in football is when he called Ellis Hobbs the “sorriest corner in the league”.

  14. danielbalc said,

    This conflicting article about Rivers however is pretty interesting.

    http://sportsline.com/columns/story/10580644/1

    After reading that I kind of understand why people want to hate on Rivers. The way Doyle describes Rivers he’s very much like the football equivalent of Tiger Woods.

    I can’t stand Tiger Woods. I hate him because he’s a winner, he always wins. I know he’s a great player and I’m sick of it. So I criticize his every flaw. When he freaks out at the gallery for taking his picture or for an inadvertent cell phone going off it really bugs me. Or when a fan will pick up his ball and throw it back onto the fairway, yeah I hate that.

    That’s how people feel about Rivers right now. When he gets mad at fans who are taunting his injured knee. Or when he revels in the success of his teammates. People are bothered by it.

    But the reality is that they aren’t angry at his actions, rather they are angry at his success.

  15. amyleesspace said,

    Daniel, The reason why some are making negative comments twds Rivers actions in Sundays game, is not solely on his comments after his injury. After their win on Sunday, he immediately turned to the crowd and began shouting things to them. It was awesome that they won the game, and they deserved the win as the overcame alot of stumbling blocks. You can’t throw stones if you live in a glass house! Don’t call others classless, if your doing the same thing. There was no need for him to yell comments to the crowd after their win.

    Another instance where you need to take your blinders off! It is ok if a Charger player acts this way, but you better bet your little booty if a Patriots player did the same you would be jumping all over them for it.

    Also in regards to the post in the Boston Herald, Wences made me sit through this entire article while he read it to me last night. I think I saw every vain in his forehead popping out! You have to remember where this article is being written, in Boston, what do you expect?? If a journalist from SD wrote an article re:the same topic, I am sure you would see a bias there as well.

  16. danielbalc said,

    After their win on Sunday, he immediately turned to the crowd and began shouting things to them.

    Oh you mean the media doesn’t like it when players do that? You mean organizations like ESPN will always criticize a player for yapping at hecklers?

    but you better bet your little booty if a Patriots player did the same you would be jumping all over them for it.

    First off, I don’t know who’s booty you are confusing mine with but of the descriptions that could have been accurate “little” is not one of them.

    Secondly as far as “jumping all over” someone on the patriots (or any other team for that matter) goes. I prefer to do it cases like this…

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080117/news_1s17patnotes.html

    Maybe this is just San Diego homer bias speaking but I think the player being accused of beating a woman should be getting more bad press than the guy who is married his middle school sweetheart, who is a proud Father of 4, who leads his team by example and energy and who, reportedly, doesn’t even cuss.

    You can have your playboy illegitimate child making QB who always says the right things to the cameras but I’ll keep the guy who taunts the crowd with vitriol like,

    “Thank you” and
    “I’ll be back” and
    “Atta Baby”

  17. Matt said,

    Matt said,
    January 11, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Enough of this Philip Rivers talk. The longer you haters wait to get on the bandwagon the more stupid you look when we win the Super Bowl.

    ….I am sooooooooo pumped for this football game!

    We have a chance to make a serious statement this weekend and take the next step toward a championship. We match up well with the Colts. Losing Gates will be tough but I got a feeling this team is going to respond and show up and play a great game.

    ….I got another one of those feelings.

    This is our time. The Pats can’t possibly want this more than we do. They already have 3 Super Bowls. No one gives us a chance, just like last week and we know how that turned out. We are highly motivated for what happened last year on our home field.

    I know Cottrell is going to come up with a great gameplan on how to slow them down and hopefully Norv gets into a play-calling groove like last week. We match up well against them, just execute.

    One Timeeeeeeeeee for a trip to the Super Bowl baby!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Midge said,

    I love EVERYTHING about this (#16) post!! =)

  19. danielbalc said,

    Matt,

    you couldn’t be more right. We match up so well agains tthis team. That was the point of this post. In fact I don’t think anyone can disagree with my evaluations that the Chargers are better in these areas…

    RB
    TE
    Secondary
    LB
    D- Line
    and
    the return game half os special teams.

    The Pats advantages are limited to QB WR and kicking game.

    It’s a wash on the O-line.

    Any disagreement might come with regards to the D-line and or LB position.

    Looking at the records would make it appear to be a mismatch but why look at the records? They mean nothing once the game starts (the Ravens and Eagles took the Pats to the limit and what were thier records?)

    The pressure is ALL on the Pats because the aren’t playing to win the game, they are playing for the “perfect season”.

    We shall see.

  20. amyleesspace said,

    Daniel- First of all the attachment re: Randy Moss is stupid!! You have no clue if these allegations are true, and Randy Moss even says that they aren’t true. This is an attempt to get $. READ BETWEEN THE LINES!

    Second- When Rivers threw comments after his injury, that was funny! But when he chose to throw comments after the game, that was just stupidness. Even Wences agrees w/that, and he is a DIE hard Charger fan.

    Thirdly- I wasn’t referring to your booty and any ones in particular. It was more of just a saying of mine.

    Quit mixing their personal lives with football, worry about the game not who is who’s daddy. The majority of Charger fans do not like the Patriots and will pick apart anything that they do on or off the field, because they are intimidated by them. Both teams have been playing well, this will be an awesome game, leave everything else out of it.

  21. Matt said,

    You have no clue if these allegations are true, and Randy Moss even says that they aren’t true.

    This is the best evidence possible for the allegations being true.

    I am going to go out on a limb and say he is guilty. He has done nothing in his entire career to earn the benefit of the doubt. Sorry.

    When Rivers threw comments after his injury, that was funny! But when he chose to throw comments after the game, that was just stupidness.

    I honestly do not understand why all these talking heads on the east coast feel qualified to comment on anything the Chargers do. They never watch us play. They do not know our players.

    There is a double standard at work here, but I do not understand why any trash talking is a big deal.

    I did not have a problem with Tom Brady jumping and screaming in the face of Anthony Smith. I did not have a problem with LeBron talking to 2 girls in the front row. I did not have a problem with Reggie Miller talking to Spike Lee. And I do not have a problem with Rivers talking to other players or fans.

    Why is this a story?

    Maybe the east coast media, who really want the Pats in the Super Bowl, are trying to create a distraction for their competition. Me thinks so.

  22. danielbalc said,

    FWIW Philip Rivers didn’t taunt the fan after the game. It was done during the game. Point of fact it happened after Manning missed the 4th and goal with 2:01 left on the clock.

    We have NO idea what Rivers said, so why do you speculate that it was something terrible? Why couldn’t have been something funny? Like the thing you just said was OK? (And why didn’t you comment on ESPN glorifying LeBron James going at it with the fans during the game? What’s with the dual standard?)

    As for mixing personal lives with football. I really don’t care except when it has to do with the questioning of character. Rivers is being villainized for NOTHING. For talking. Meanwhile there are tons of BAD people in the NFL. Rivers doesn’t deserve to be thought of as one of them. Rivers isn’t the one being accused of beating his mistress.

    And finally, STOP, PLEASE STOP saying things like, “Chargers fans are intimidated by the Patriots.” It’s ridiculous on a blog like this where more than one commentor was beggin to play the Patriots months ago. That would be the opposite of intimidation miss.

  23. amyleesspace said,

    Ok first off, I did watch the game on Sunday and I am sure millions of viewers EVERYWHERE did, so I and they, I think meet the qualifications to comment on the game.

    DBalc- Puhleease I am sure that Rivers was NOT saying something like this, “Hey you, wanna meet for some tea and crumpets after the game?”

    I didnt comment on the Espn thingy because when I opened up the link it was too much of a mess for me. So I just closed it , I didn’t have the time to look for the article :).

    I am the first to say its annoying when the Pats show boat or act stupid, the same as I say it when I notice it about other players.

  24. danielbalc said,

    I am the first to say its annoying when the Pats show boat or act stupid, the same as I say it when I notice it about other players.

    Fine, that’s your personal opinion so feel free to criticize show boating players.

    But it’s NOT the opinion of the national media. They glorify it. Let me also say it’s not even the opinion of the average fan.

    I always try and go at it with the opposing baseball players at PETCO. Trying to get them off their game. I don’t sit anywhere near close enough to the field to do that at football games, but I can say this from baseball game experiences that I LOVE it when a player talks back to me.

  25. danielbalc said,

    Puhleease I am sure that Rivers was NOT saying something like this, “Hey you, wanna meet for some tea and crumpets after the game?”

    You’re right. It was probably more like, “Hey fan who was harassing me as I sat here on this training table having my knee examined. Enjoy the offseason. Who do you want for a new head coach? And how come Peyton Manning couldn’t do what Billy Volek just did?”

    At least that’s what I think he said.

  26. Matt said,

    Here is a good article for those looking for tangible reasons why the Chargers can win on Sunday.

    Instead of saying, “Oh geez the Patriots have not lost this year that means they will win by 3 touchdowns” like all the ignorant “experts”, this article looks into the numbers (what a concept!) that matter.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22715686/

  27. danielbalc said,

    If I’m Norv Turner I’m printing this out and giving a copy to every one of the players on my team…
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/columns/story?columnist=afc&id=3199046&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos1

    What’s so great about their explanations of their picks is that they spend three quarters of the time talking about what the Chargers can’t do and one quarter (if that) of the time talking about Tom Brady.

    In fact between 4 guys they only mention 2 Patriots (Brady and Moss) while mentioning 7 Chargers (in order Rivers, Gates, Tomlinson, Cromartie, Turner, Volek and Olshanksy).
    Every Charger reference (except Cromartie) it’s about their inabilities while every Patriot reference is about their superiority.

    I love it.

  28. danielbalc said,

    Bad News.

    the UT is reporting that Rivers has a partially torn ACL in his right knee to go along with a strained MCL in his left.
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20080118-1156-bn18rivers3.html

    The only way to win this game is for the Patriots to turn the ball over more. I can’t imagine Volek being able to protect the ball as well as Rivers. So if indeed it’s Volek at QB the defense will have to come up with at least 2 or 3 turnovers to win.

    Not impossible, but not likely.

  29. Matt said,

    I definitely expect him to try and play, however, the fact that it will be cold will not help him in getting loose. The o-line is going to have to have the game of their lives because any hits or attempted scrambles will probably end his day.

    This is unbelievably unlucky and frustrating that we finally get to the championship game and our 3 best offensive players are seriously hurt.

    Maybe it will be super windy and short passes and the running game will be needed thus negating the QB disadvantage with Volek.

  30. danielbalc said,

    Maybe I’m crazy. But I honestly believe the Chargers are going to win this football game.

    It’s not just fantasy. Everything I look at tells me that the Chargers are not only going to win this game but that it won’t even be close.

    This is even with Billy Volek at QB.

    It’s all about the defense. The Chargers defense is going to shut down the New Enlgand offense in way that no one could have possibly imagined.

    I predict 2 touchdowns MAX for NE.

    If it goes down this way we will hear all kinds of excuses about the weather or pressure but ultimately credit needs to fall on Ted Cottrell game planning a ferocious attack and great coverage schemes to give his defensive playmakers th best opportunities to win this game.

    Oh man I am excited.

    This is going to be good.

  31. Albino Hayford said,

    Will you guys be following this Wisconsin Church’s example?
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22744317/

  32. danielbalc said,

    Disappointing.

    All the pundits will say garbage like “hip hip hooray for the Chargers, great showing, better than expected, blah, blah, blah.”

    Actually it was almost exactly what I expected, except terrible play calling took what could have been 24 points and made it into 12.

    You have to play to win. The Chargers didn’t do that today. They settled for chip shot after chip shot and then with their backs to the wall they punted the ball away and never saw it again.

    Norv Turner wussed out at the worst possible time.

    Disappointed.

    I pray that the Patriots don’t win the super bowl because no team is less deserving.

  33. Pablo Honey said,

    It is disappointing, definitely a came we could have and should have won. Bad play calling (especially in the red zone) and losing the field position battle hurt us. Kaeding was awful on kickoffs, but great on field goals, unfortunately he was attempting field goals instead of extra points. Very upsetting that L.T. couldn’t go, definitely didn’t help us. The worst news of all is that we are all going to have to be Eli Manning fans in 2 weeks.

    Now for the good news. I honestly believe this Chargers team will be threatening for an undefeated season next year. The rest of the league better watch out because we already have the best defense in football and they are only going to get better. And it says here that next season Philip Rivers is going to be delighting fantasy owners all year. This year came to a disappointing end but next year we will be celebrating a super bowl win.

  34. Matt said,

    I don’t have a big problem with play-calling at all (see below). In fact, we played a darn good football game imo, better than the Patriots, but could not get it done in the red zone.

    LT being out and Gates not being effective is a big reason why we struggled in the red zone. Those two guys are your primary weapons down there and you are really limited in what you can do without them.

    Nevertheless, if we could have found a way to punch in a couple TD’s we win the game and if we had a healthy offense we definitely win the game.

    As for Rivers, I already love the guy but now I have a full-blown man crush. That was a gutsy and great effort on a bad wheel. He made great throws all day and has really matured into a great QB right before our eyes this year. I look for big things from him in the future.

    ***I will question 2 calls****

    #1) The 3rd and 1 play on the 4 yard line in the 3rd quarter was bad. Michael Turner had been running between the tackles all day successfully and is not an outside runner. Any time you run a stretch play you run the risk of someone getting penetration and blowing it up and that is what happened. That play should have gone up the gut for a first down. If we score a TD there the whole complextion of the game changes, we get the lead and the Pats will begin to press.

    #2) The punt with 9 minutes left on 4th and 10. Yes it is a tough conversion, but we had been successful throwing the ball all game. We are down 2 scores and punting only gains us 20-25 yards in field position had we gone for it and failed. This was too conservative, but at the same time 9 minutes is a long time and he felt we could get a stop. Hindsight is always 20-20.

    Great effort by a banged up team. We will be great again next year and hopefully much healthier come playoff time so we can finish it.

  35. Matt said,

    ****ONE MORE THING****

    Are we the unluckiest sport’s city in America?

    The Chargers lose (or severly hamper the abilities of) their 3 most effective offensive weapons just as they are starting their playoff run. Unlucky to be sure but things happen.

    …But wait, what about the Padres? They lose Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley (two extremely important players) to fluke injuries at the end of pennant race of which they had control, crippling their chances at a World Series run.

    Not a good year in the luck department for San Diego teams.

  36. Bruce S. said,

    Nevertheless, if we could have found a way to punch in a couple TD’s we win the game

    Not by my arithmetic. 21-12 becomes 21-20 if two threes had become two sevens. Or did you want NE to spot you 14 points at the start of the game somehow?

    Can’t believe Tomlinson hid behind his helmet the whole game on the bench. Was he bawling the whole time? Or what?

  37. danielbalc said,

    I believe the proper expression for a game like this is…

    “They are who we thought they were. And we let em off the hook!”

    Reflecting on the game I can confidently say that had a different team, like say the Colts, played the exact same game as the Chargers did yesterday I would have accused the NFL of fixing games.

    I’ve never seen a team play so much like they were “just happy to be there” and not at all interested in winning the game.

    Norv’s play calling was atrocious in the red zone. By my count they only attempted one pass into the endzone. Why just one? It certainly wasn’t for lack of opportunities.

    And then there are the little things; like after the brain dead punt call (unbearable) they have the Pats seemingly stopped and Kevin Faulk makes an incredible diving catch on third down.

    They don’t challenge the call because they want to save time outs right?
    2 plays later they call a time out?

    Stupid. A replay challenge time out is like two time outs in the length that it gives you. It allows your team defense to regroup and take a deep breath, PLUS there is the chance that maybe the ball hit the ground and it’s ruled incomplete.

    It just seemed to me watching the game that the cold weather had a severe debilitating impact on what makes Norv Turner a man.

    He didn’t play to win.

    He played to a level that would leave him with fuzzy feelings of satisfaction…

    “I’m going to go home with a great feeling about this football team,” Turner said. “We’re an extremely young football team … and this team will continue to grow and get better.”

    Sorry coach, but no matter how “young” your football team is they can only get better by playing to win.

    Playing to make someone proud stops in high school.

  38. danielbalc said,

    How terrible is this.

    San Diego’s two sports teams seasons were “ruined” by…

    Tony Gwynn Jr.
    Junior Seau.

    oh the humanity.

    Poetic injustice to say the least.

  39. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    “He didn’t play to win.”

    Is Marty still the coach?

    It’s over, They got beat by a better team.

  40. Matt said,

    Not by my arithmetic. 21-12 becomes 21-20 if two threes had become two sevens.

    This is correct, but fails to consider how the game may have played out had we taken the lead at some point. Teams play differently (and with more pressure) when they are behind.

    By my count they only attempted one pass into the endzone.

    I do not think this is fair. We do not know the progression Rivers had to go through on those passes. The play calls were fine, the defense just covered up well and Rivers had to go to his 3rd or 4th options.

    On the first drive no one was open and he finally threw to Chambers in the back of the endzone but he was out of bounds.

    On the second drive he had Jackson open in the endzone for a TD but protection broke down a little early and he had to dump it off to Chambers (Hobbs came up and made a good tackle)

    On the third drive he did throw a pass to Gates in the endzone and Bruschi just made a great play diving to deflect the sure TD pass. Credit the old man.

    We just did not execute the plays well enough to overcome their very good red zone defense.

    They don’t challenge the call because they want to save time outs right?

    They did not challenge it because there was no way on God’s green earth that play was going to be overturned. Save the timeout.

    That was just a ridiculously good catch in a pressure situation. He made another great catch a few plays later on 3rd and 3 when Brady threw it way behind him as well.

  41. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    From the UT…

    “Chargers wide receiver Chris Chambers blamed himself for running the wrong end-zone pass route on the play immediately preceding the first of Nate Kaeding’s four field goals. Rivers credited Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi with an extraordinary deflection on a second-quarter goal-line pass to tight end Antonio Gates.”

    “Because Tomlinson poses multiple threats, his value is probably greatest near the goal line. The closer an offensive unit moves toward the end zone, the less territory a defense must defend. As the field becomes more compressed and densely populated, the player who can run, catch and throw can significantly expand a team’s options.

    No player is irreplaceable, but LT comes close. “

  42. danielbalc said,

    They did not challenge it because there was no way on God’s green earth that play was going to be overturned. Save the timeout.

    I agree.
    But they blew the time out just 2 plays later. A challenge time out is longer than a regular time out. It’s better for your defense. And I haven’t re watched it but initially it looked like the ball may have touched the ground. May. Slim chances are better than none. But then again we already determined that Turner wasn’t going to take any chances which is why he punted the game away and settled for field goals.

    Like I said, The cold froze his nuts off.

  43. Matt said,

    The bottomline is this in my opinion:

    We definitely win the game if we were as healthy as they were on offense. No doubt about it.

    We turn those field goals into touchdowns with a healthy LT and Gates. No doubt.

    Our defense played tremendous, doing what no team had done all year: Holding the Patriots to 21 points and intercepting Tom Brady 3 times.

    That being said, we still could have won even without those guys had we made a couple more plays in the red zone. It is frustrating, but the future is bright.

    The Patriots are going to go 19-0 and go down in history as the best team ever. Take solice in the fact that we went toe to toe with them without our best players and still had a real chance at winning.

  44. danielbalc said,

    The facts on the blown time out. (Not for those with weak stomachs).

    6:30 on the clock, 1st and 10 Maroney runs for 1 yard from the NE 35 to the 36.
    Chargers call a time out with…
    5:49 on the clock!

    As for this…

    The Patriots are going to go 19-0 and go down in history as the best team ever. Take solice in the fact that we went toe to toe with them without our best players and still had a real chance at winning.

    I can’t. I can’t stand that THAT team could be called the “best team ever”. It just shouldn’t be. Not a team whose star defensive player missed the first 4 games of the season for HGH. Not a team whose coach was the mastermind behind an elaborate scheme to steal signs from every other team in football.

    Not a team who would’ve lost to the RAVENS if not for an official not knowing the rules of who is allowed to call a time out.

    Honestly if it were the Colts who were in this position, as much as I hate the colts, I think I could call them the “best team ever”. But with all the clouds surrounding this Patriots team it makes me sick to even think about calling them the “best team ever”.

    I don’t care how well or how poorly we played against them, it’s not a personal thing at all it’s a principle thing. I can’t take solace in “almost” beating them. I can only take solace in justice being served. Please Eli. Please.

  45. danielbalc said,

    One more reason I don’t want to call the Patriots the “best team ever”

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1066814&srvc=home&position=active/

  46. danielbalc said,

    One more reason I don’t want to call the Patriots the “best team ever”

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1066814&srvc=home&position=active/

  47. Matt said,

    I am not calling them the best team ever, I am telling you everyone will be calling them the best team ever.

    As for the timeout, re-watch the game. The reason they called the timeout was because their substitutions got all screwed up. They had guys running all over the field and called timeout to avoid a penalty (maybe take the penalty?) not to stop the clock.

  48. danielbalc said,

    exactly. So it was a blown timeout. ugly and stupid. But one wasted timeout didn’t lose the game. It was a gutless game plan that lost the game. That’s the frustration.

    “You play to win the game.”

    Thanks Herm, but not yesterday.

    BTW the same idiots who criticized Tony Dungy for NOT kicking a field goal against the Chargers will criticize Turner for taking field goals against he Patriots.

  49. Matt said,

    Listen to the Norv Turner press conference on Chargers.com. Early in the clip, he tears into a stupid reporter who, in essence, was questioning LT’s toughness. Hillarious.

    No wonder these guys hate the media.

  50. Matt said,

    How tough is Philip Rivers? This is amazing.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22770232/

  51. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    That’s one tough hombre!

  52. danielbalc said,

    Another complaint I have about the game, and one that I am sure will fall on deaf ears, was the officiating.

    Yeah, yeah it wasn’t as bas as the Colts game and since there were so few penalties called no one will complain about the officiating.

    However if you recorded the game I would encourage you to go back and watch the replay of Rivers first interception. The one where Asante Samuel jumps in front of Chris Chambers and just takes the ball away. It was a pivotal moment in the game because it led to a very short field that the Patriots scored their second TD on.

    You might think that I would complain about pass interference on that play (and in fact I did during the game) but if you go back and watch the replay you will hear Phil Simms praising Mike Vrabel for an incredible spin move to put pressure on Rivers and force him to make a bad pass.

    In actuality what Vrable did was kick Rivers in the leg while he (Vrabel) was falling to the ground. NFL rules call this a “leg whip” and it is so dangerous that it is penalized 15 yards. That penalty is called 90% of the time because late, low or helmet to helmet hits on the QB are an emphasis of NFL officials. They protect the quarterback. At least they are supposed to.

    This crew didn’t call anything except for an obvious facemask and a holding penalty.

    Missing that leg whip (intentionally or not) was huge in determining the outcome of the game.

    And please, don’t think this is a whiney type of complaint. Go back and watch it for yourself. It was blatant.

  53. danielbalc said,

    BTW the reason I went back to watch that play was because I heard an ESPN radio host call it out. ESPN personalities are the biggest Patriots fans in the world so for one of them to say something negative about the Patriots is very significant.

  54. Matt said,

    That is really bad. There is no way the referree did not see it either because his only job in that situation is to watch the QB for a late hit. Makes you wonder.

    I am not suprised at all that Vrabel would attempt something like that. It is part of the Patriot culture, if you are not cheating your not trying.

  55. Matt said,

    Here see for yourself

    http://www.nfl.com/videos

    Go to- “NFL Gameday: Chargers-Patriots Highlights” video the play in question is at the 3:30 mark of the video

  56. Former FFL Champ said,

    No doubt that was a blown call. What about the time Seymour knocked Rivers down and they didn’t call anything?

  57. Bruce S. said,

    Even Vegas seems to be forgetting the most important factor that y’all are overlooking: the weather. They currently have the Pats winning 31-17. But with snow, ice and wind I can’t see either that many points being scored or the Chargers losing by that much. I’d be curious to see the line move as the game nears and the weather prognostications start becoming certainties. Under the right weather conditions and allowing for unbiased refereeing, the Chargers could make it a game.

    I see that hand, thank you brother. Thank you.

  58. danielbalc said,

    Three contributers to the ending of the Padres and the Chargers seasons…

    Fluky Injuries- Cameron and Bradley. LT, Rivers and Gates
    Old Friends- Tony Gwynn Jr and Junior Seau
    Poor Officiating- Holiday STILL hasn’t touched home plate. One penalty against NE the whole game.

    Clearly God is angry at our city for allowing Mike Aguirre to continue to be city attorney.

  59. Anthony said,

    I saw the leg whip during the live broadcast. That should have been a penalty, negating the turnover.

    As far as the Rockies game… LOL!!!! Hoffman got torched!!

    I can think of two contributers to the ending of the Padres and Chargers seasons… the Padres and the Chargers.

  60. danielbalc said,

    Well it was worth the wait. Greg Easterbrook of TMQ writes about the Chargers Patriots game, saying all of the things that needed to be said…

    San Diego at New England Analysis: Not only did Norv Turner order the silliest punt ever, passively conceding a Super Bowl trip, but he also made mincing fraidycat calls throughout the game. Facing the highest-scoring team in football history, Turner punted three times inside New England territory — from the Flying Elvii 36, 41 and 49. Turner ordered a punt on fourth-and-inches from the San Diego 33, and if you don’t think your offense can gain a few inches, why bother to have the guys suit up? Plus, Turner opted for field goals from the New England 5-, 6- and 8-yard lines. You’re playing the highest-scoring team in history — a team whose season-low output was 20 points, and that was in a 27-mph wind. You’re going to have to score a lot of points to defeat the highest-scoring team ever. Yet three times inside the New England 10, Turner shrugged and took the field goal, and three times inside New England territory Turner didn’t even try to score, passively booming a punt. Attempting to defeat a 17-0 team, the Chargers took no risks and never went for it on fourth down. A reader laments in haiku:

    Cannot dance with champ:
    No meek kicks, go for seven!
    Read TMQ, Norv!

    — Paul Kohnhorst, Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Once again, not only did the weather (stiff winds died down just before kickoff) seem to be under Belichick’s control, but so did the officials. Disciplined teams commit fewer penalties, and Belichick teams are disciplined — but there’s a difference between discipline and seeming to get a free pass from the officials. A few years ago, New England won an AFC championship when repeated obvious pass-interference penalties by the Patriots against the Colts went uncalled in the fourth quarter; that year, New England won the Super Bowl without ever being called for pass interference or offensive holding in the postseason. On Sunday, the Pats were flagged just twice, for 19 yards. With 11 minutes remaining and San Diego driving, Richard Seymour, after the whistle, shoved Philip Rivers to the ground directly in front of referee Jeff Triplette — no flag. During a play, linebacker Mike Vrabel spun around his blocker, then leg-whipped Rivers, causing him to fall and throw an interception — no flag. Reader Jacob Robertson of Rock Hill, S.C., writes, “Tripping is a penalty in the NFL, yet not only was this not called, the announcers praise New England linebackers when they cheat.” Robertson haikuized:
    Stick leg out to trip
    and cause an interception:
    get praised on TV!

    — Jacob Robertson, Rock Hill, S.C.

    Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, the CBS announcers, said nothing about the leg whip. Nor did they note that Vrabel’s move came against rookie tackle Jeromey Clary, who was filling in for yet another injured San Diego starter. Although CBS was oblivious to the Patriots’ uncalled penalties, both “SportsCenter” and the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen highlighted the tripping flag that wasn’t thrown. So even the league’s in-house network was bothered by New England’s getting away with this play!

    San Diego played with a lot of spirit, and held New England to 21 points, the Patriots’ lowest scoring output of the season in a game in which they were still attempting to score in the fourth quarter. The Chargers, like the Jaguars the week before, neutralized Moss by jamming him at the line — surely Jersey/A will notice this, and surely Belichick will devise a countermeasure for the Super Bowl. Both San Diego and New England played from the shotgun spread almost exclusively — a January cold-weather game in the Northeast played almost entirely from the shotgun spread, perhaps it’s best if the football gods don’t mention this to Vince Lombardi? The Chargers players never seemed to give up. What a shame their coach did.

    But although San Diego played with spirit, it made more tactical errors than New England, and you can’t beat the league’s best team by making tactical errors. Every Chargers run save one went straight up the middle, between the guards — which meant San Diego kept rushing directly at Vince Wilfork, one of the league’s best nose tackles. The one rush that went outside was the day’s disaster play for the Bolts. Trailing 14-9, San Diego faced third-and-1 on the New England 4 in the third quarter. A conversion and a touchdown here, and who knows? San Diego swept left, but only after setting fullback Lorenzo Neal as a wingback left, which caused TMQ to say aloud before the snap, “It’s a sweep left.” New England linebacker Junior Seau, released as washed up by the Chargers five years ago, shot the gap behind the play and tackled the runner for a loss, followed by a San Diego field goal on fourth-and-3 — this being a time when San Diego just had to gamble if it wanted to win.

    San Diego did not start passing on first down until after it fell behind, and passing on first down proved effective for the visitors until the fourth quarter. As New England clearly was expecting run on first down, why didn’t the Chargers pass on first down early instead of waiting until they were in trouble? On one of Rivers’ two interceptions, he heave-hoed deep toward Chris Chambers on a “go,” and Ellis Hobbs got the pick. Hobbs was 10 yards off the ball at the snap! A receiver won’t be open on a go against a corner giving such a cushion, but Rivers threw the ball anyway. With New England leading 7-6 late in the first half, the Patriots had first-and-10 on the Bolts’ 12. San Diego called a weird zone blitz in which three rushed and backup defensive tackle Jacques Cesaire dropped into coverage to cover Flying Elvii wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Not only did Brady have four full seconds in which to scan the field, but it will not surprise you to learn that the defensive tackle was not able to cover the wide receiver — officially, Cesaire is 297 pounds, but he sure looks 350. New England touchdown. What kind of defense is dropping a defensive tackle into coverage while not pressuring the league’s most prolific passer?

    Over on the New England side, once again the Pats played straight defense for the first three quarters, then began blitzing in the fourth. Just as this caught the Jaguars off guard the week before, it caught the Bolts off guard Sunday — even though straight defense in the first three quarters followed by blitzing in the fourth has been the pattern of recent New England game film, as TMQ has pointed out several times. A six-blitz with 11:40 remaining in the fourth was not picked up by a surprised-looking San Diego offensive line, forcing Rivers to throw inaccurately toward an open Chambers, for instance. Rivers threw the ball away on San Diego’s final offensive snap, third-and-10 from the New England 36, when a safety blitz took the Chargers’ offensive line totally by surprise — even though the pattern of recent New England game film is Rodney Harrison blitzing in the fourth quarter.

    Leading 14-12 in the second half but having considerable trouble with the San Diego pass defense, Belichick made a Belichick-style move by switching to a three-tight-end power set and running the ball; Laurence Maroney finished with 16 yards rushing in the first half and 106 yards in the second half. Smart coaches such as Belichick aren’t afraid to change the team’s look completely in midgame — yet surprisingly few NFL coaches try this. With the Patriots leading 14-12 early in the fourth quarter, New England ran an extremely sweet play. The Elvii lined up with three wide right, tight end Benjamin Watson being the farthest out in an unconventional bunch and Wes Welker being nearest, in the slot. Before the snap, San Diego defensive backs Antonio Cromartie and Drayton Florence were pointing — nobody was sure who had Welker. They seemed to decide who did. But then Watson came in motion back toward the formation. Watson ran a down-and-out, Welker cut under him across the middle, and nobody at all covered Welker as he scored a touchdown. San Diego had five defensive backs in the end zone on that play — to defend three receivers — and no one covered the NFL’s leading receiver of 2007.

    Note 1: New England passed five times on third-and-short, resulting in one first down, three incompletions and an interception. New England rushed four times on third-and-short, resulting in four first downs. Note 2: Reaching first-and-10 at the San Diego 20 just after the two-minute warning and with the Chargers out of timeouts, the Patriots simply knelt on the ball. This is the first instance in months when Belichick has shown good sportsmanship — What’s up with that? Note 3: The game paired Welker and Chambers, who combined for 14 receptions for 144 yards. Both played for Miami last season, and both were shown the door by canny, crafty, cagey Cam “Cam” Cameron. Rather than having these two top-notch receivers, Miami has center Samson Satele (a promising rookie) and a late second-round choice from the Bolts. Teams become 1-15 when the coach actively tries to get rid of good players.

    Single Worst Play of the Season — So Far: You’re playing the highest-scoring team in football history; you’re trailing by more than a touchdown with 9:21 remaining in the AFC Championship Game; and you’re in New England territory on the Patriots’ 36 — you cannot seriously be sending in the punting team! I don’t care if it’s fourth-and-goal from the 36! You must score on this possession or the game is over. A fourth-quarter punt inside the territory of the highest-scoring team ever, when trailing by two scores, could well be the single worst coaching decision in NFL history.

    This decision was so, so stupid that it caused me to wonder something I almost never wonder — if the coach involved had bet on the game or was assisting others who had. As many readers, including Alex Hryhorczuk of River Forest, Ill., pointed out, the Chargers were 14-point ‘dogs. By launching his Preposterous Punt, Norv Turner surrendered any chance San Diego would win but made it a lot more likely the Bolts would cover the spread. My guess is that Turner’s decision was not corruption but rather the combination of spinelessness and inattention to the clock-and-field situation that causes many coaches to order punts even when their sole hope of victory is going for the first down. But when a coach’s decision is so, so stupid that it appears to reflect corruption: Norv Turner, with one game remaining, you are guilty of the Single Worst Play of the Season — So Far.

  61. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    Let it go coach. It’s over. It’s history. Let’s get on the Padres bandwagon.

  62. danielbalc said,

    Hey dude, I’m all about the Padres bandwagon. I just need a little bit of time ok?

  63. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    Ok, but I need to get started early climbing on the Padres bandwagon. It’s a bigger step up on the bandwagon this year.

    “Bolts fire receiver coach Lofton”

    Surprising considering VJs improved play.

  64. danielbalc said,

    Evidently Rivers isn’t the only tough guy on the Chargers team…

    Nate Kaeding’s “leg bruise” was actually a “leg fracture”

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20080126-9999-1s26chargers.html

    He played 5 games with a fracture in his plant leg.

    That’s impressive. And just in case you’re thinking about claiming this hurt the team he made 11 of 13 while kicking with this broken leg.

    Rivers, Gates, Kaeding. I suspect that if any one of us had a torn ACL or a dislocated toe or a broken leg we probably wouldn’t even go to work let alone go to a job where you’re going to get hit by a 300 pound piece of muscle and sweat.

  65. Alex said,

    Just in case anyone is headed to Arizona to watch the Super Bowl you may want to pick up mask first.

    Go here:

    http://wbztv.com/sports/Bridget.Moynahan.Mask.2.635428.html

  66. Alex said,

    This link will get you to your mask quicker:

    http://www.q1043.com/pages/images/BridgetMoynahan.pdf

  67. Big Family Christmas » Blog Archive » San Diego @ New England AFC Championship Game Preview « Daniel’s Den said,

    […] danielbalc wrote an interesting post today onSan Diego @ New England AFC Championship Game Preview « Danielâ??s DenHere’s a quick excerpthttp://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20080118-1156-bn18rivers3.html. The only way to win this game is for the Patriots to turn the ball over more. I can’t imagine Volek being able to protect the ball as well as Rivers. … […]

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