The AFC divisional round has some potential upsets which guarantees some great action this weekend in the NFL.
Chargers looking to end Patriots AFC title game streak
The New England Patriots will be looking to play in the AFC championship game for the 8th consecutive time if they can defeat the Los Angeles Chargers at home. The Patriots will have their hands full with the Chargers pass rush and that will ultimately be the key to the game.
In the Patriots losses this season, Tom Brady was under constant pressure and never looked comfortable. Excluding the miracle in Miami, that seems to be the formula for beating this New England team and the Chargers have two of the best pass rushers in the business.
The Patriots will have their hands full with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They will need to pay special attention to Ingram who moves around the defensive line looking to take advantage of certain matchups especially on obvious passing situations.
The Chargers will need Philip Rivers to exercise his demons and against Brady and Belichek. He is 0-7 in his career against them including 0-2 in the playoffs. The last time they met in the playoffs, LaDainian Tomlinson was the Chargers best player. That 2008 season ended in bitter disappointment for Rivers and the Chargers but that was a long time ago. Rivers is a great competitor and he has to know that at this point in his career, playoff wins are what will define his legacy. Many of his detractors will point to his lack of playoff success when discussing his resume. Beating the Patriots in Foxborough in January will go a long way in silencing the doubters.
Can the Colts pull off the upset?
There is only one team remaining in the playoffs that is top 10 in the NFL on both offense and defense and they travel to Arrow Head stadium looking for another upset. The Colts know about Kansas City and their playoff struggles because they’ve helped write some of those chapters.
The Kansas City Chiefs have not won a home playoff game in over 25 years.
One of the keys to this game will be the Colts ability to run the ball. They will want to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes hands and one way to get that done is by controlling the clock. The Colts have had success rushing the ball against some very tough defenses and the Chiefs just happen to have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.
If they Colts do manage to establish the run, that will not only accomplish their goal of controlling the clock, it will also set up their play action passing for a QB in Andrew Luck, who looks like he is back to his elite self after his injury issues over the past few seasons.
The key then for the Chiefs is establishing an early lead. If they let the Colts hang around or even take a lead, you will sense the nerves in the stadium. The Chiefs die hard fans are well aware of their playoff futility recently and they will be anxious to get things off to a fast start.