On Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers traveled to Foxborough to play the Patriots in what most thought would be a tight game with the victor being the one with the ball in their possession last, driving for the game-winning touchdown. Things could not have been more different, as the Patriots absolutely routed the Chargers, though the score may not show it that way.
The game started off how everyone expected, with both teams driving and scoring. However, once the Chargers scored to tie the game 7-7, the Patriots took off and widened the gap between the teams until the second half. Going into halftime up 35-7, the game plan changed to be more safe on offense, avoid turnovers, and play good enough defense to not allow the Chargers to make a comeback. The final ended up being 41-28, with the remainder of the Charger’s scores being in what most people would call “garbage time”, where they can score all they want, there’s not enough time for them to come back.
There were several factors that caused the Patriots to blow through the Chargers the way they did, one being Tom Brady. Brady had his most efficient game of the season, throwing for 343 yards with only 10 incompletions on 44 throws. Brady was able to have such a good game because of his offensive line, who kept him nearly completely protected against a defensive line full of stars like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Another huge factor in this game was Sony Michel. We’ve seen him have big 100 yard rushing games this year, but his performance on Sunday was dominant, rushing for 129 yards for three touchdowns on 24 carries. This, again, is thanks to the performance of the offensive line and the help they received from Rob Gronkowski and James Develin, who didn’t show up much on the stat sheet, but proved to be worthy of praise through their run blocking abilities.
Perhaps the most surprising factor in this win was the Patriots defense. They’ve had their ups and downs this season, but it seems like they’re coming into form at the perfect time. The pass rush was getting to Philip Rivers frequently, and his furstration showed throughout the game. While the pass rush was dominant, coverage in the secondary was very tight, making it even more difficult for the Chargers to move the ball. Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson locked down the Charger’s receivers, aside from Gilmore’s zone coverage mistake in the first quarter, and the pass coverage team as a whole had a great game, essentially shutting down the passing offense until the second half.
So, are the Patriots going to be able to go into Arrowhead and win another AFC Championship? I believe so. Earlier this year, the Patriots were able to hold the Chiefs (who still had Kareem Hunt) to only nine points in the first half, and if the defense plays this well again, the offense will surely be able to put up points like last time. The only thing that gives the Chiefs an advantage is home field, and it will be a rough environment for the Patriots to come in to.