BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL Playoffs have arrived in Foxboro, with the Los Angles Chargers coming to New England for a divisional round clash with the Patriots.
The Chargers are one of the best teams in football and are coming off a tough road victory over the Ravens in Baltimore on wild card weekend, making them a ridiculous 9-0 away from Los Angeles this season. But now they face a Patriots team that hasn’t lost within the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium this season.
This should be fun.
Here’s how the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports teams see Sunday’s divisional round showdown playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots are well-rested, confident and healthy again. The bye week was just what the doctor ordered.
The Patriots have been invincible at home all year and are on a mission to make sure their perfect 8-0 record remains perfect. Yes, the Chargers have the best road record in the NFL, but now they have to come across country (again) and play in the frigid temps of New England. Philip Rivers has played in five games where the starting temp was below 32 degrees, and he’s 1-4 in those contests.
Patriots 34, Chargers 24
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
There are a lot of challenges facing the Chargers this week. They are making their second west-to-east trip in a week and playing again at 10 a.m. west coast time. They’re playing a Patriots team that is 8-0 at home and they’re facing a healthy Tom Brady and company.
I think Brady will try to negate the pass rush led by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa (12.5 sacks during regular season, three more last week at Baltimore) by getting rid of the ball quickly, with the offense mixing in a healthy dose of the run.
Philip Rivers just keeps coming and coming at you, and can never be counted out. But I see the Pats jumping out to a lead (17-0? 21-3?) and then holding off a late L.A. charge.
Patriots 27, Chargers 21
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
I’m nervous about this game. I know the Pats have only lost once in the divisional round while coming off a bye, but there is something about this Chargers team. They can win in many ways and their defense is stout.
Here’s the question: Can the Patriots overcome all of this and get to their eighth straight AFC Championship game? I believe they can.
These are the games the Pats thrive in and having it at Gillette will be a huge plus. The Pats are a different team at home and even if they don’t have the matchup on paper, they make up for it with home field.
I think this will be a close game, but the Pats get the victory.
Patriots 27, Chargers 24
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
There’s plenty of reason to believe the Chargers can and will win this game. They do have a better record than the Patriots, and they’ve been monsters on the road (9-0 when they’ve had to fly to a game this season, in fact). If L.A. wins, it shouldn’t even be considered an upset; that might be the best team in the AFC.
At the same time, there are a number of factors working in the Patriots’ favor. Melvin Gordon is not going to be as explosive as he should be. The Chargers overall are sure to be slightly sore from last Sunday’s physical battle in Baltimore; throw two cross-country flights on top of that, and it probably hasn’t been the best week for treatment. Then there’s the weather, and the difficulty of playing in Foxboro for any visiting team.
I do think the Chargers will put points on the board, but I think that L.A. defense has too many flaws. The trio of Brady-McDaniels-Belichick will surely attack with a level of execution that the Jackson-Mornhinweg-Harbaugh trio could not even imagine.
Some scoring, fun game, but the Patriots pull away with a touchdown late to ice it away.
Patriots 30, Chargers 20
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
The Chargers are a very good football team. One of the best in the AFC. They are true road warriors this season, and have the pedigree to come into Gillette Stadium and beat the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
If this was a neutral site game (or in that soccer stadium they play in), I’d pick the Chargers. They have the better roster, a dangerous defense and a big-game quarterback in Philip Rivers. The Patriots have been vulnerable all season, and the Chargers certainly have a good shot at pulling this one out.
But I’m done picking against the Patriots in home playoff games, especially when they’re coming off a bye. This won’t be an easy one by any stretch, but the New England secondary should be able to keep Rivers and his weapons in check, and Bill Belichick make sure they take away Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield.
Patriots 27, Chargers 21
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers divisional round clash on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots! Coverage begins Friday night with Patriots All Access at 7 p.m., and kicks off on Sunday with a special hour-long edition of Patriots GameDay at 11 a.m.! We’ll break it all down and hear from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady LIVE on Patriots 5th Quarter on WBZ-TV after the game!