Football Outsiders

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Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Your weekend viewing plans (all times Eastern): SATURDAY: Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m.; Dallas at L.A. Rams, 8:15 p.m. SUNDAY: L.A. Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m.; Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Win or go home. Use this thread to discuss them all.


192 comments, Last at 15 Jan 2019, 5:18am

120 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Well, that's hardly fair. The Chargers had a better record than the Patriots, but were unfortunate enough to play in the same division as the Chiefs.

I'm fully on board with the idea that the AFC East has been nothing like as weak as is regularly perceived during the Patriots long period of domination. But this season it undoubtedly has, and the Patriots have been lucky to benefit from it.

109 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Chargers looking like paper tigers once again. Rivers already crying for flags and their coaches look completely overmatched.

113 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Charger's still can't get the snap off in time in the late 2nd.

And yet another playoff game that looks to be determined by dominant line play. Sensing a theme here...

117 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Patriots almost have more points in a single half than they have had in an entire game this season. Now I wish the Ravens had won last week because their excellent defense would obviously do much better than this.

122 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Shouldn't the Chargers have gone for 2? 31 points is not necessarily a 5 score lead, unless you keep kicking the XP. I mean the odds of it becoming relevant are extremely slim, but still,how do you not go for 2?

124 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

I haven't watched that many games this year, I confess. For those who have watched this LA team, were the Chargers legitimately overrated? Their defense was a zone scheme in the regular season and poorly suited in a matchup with NE, but is this seriously the best they can do? This game has been a joke, and I know NE is not this good...

142 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

You'd have about a nickel. The Patriots have been consistently great throughout the season for many years now. This was the first time in a long time they looked shaky enough in the regular season that there was serious doubt as to whether they were one of the strongest teams in the league.

149 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

I'd give Rick more than that. Maybe after the 2011 romp over Denver... the 2003 Championship game against Indy, perhaps the 2004 Divisional round win over Indy... even the 2001 Super Bowl. He might have a pocket with about 25 cents.

Maybe DVOA will feel that the Chargers' comeback in the second half shows Pats' shakiness, but otherwise, this felt like one of the most complete dismantlings the Patriots have ever inflicted on a postseason opponent. It was like the 2004 game against the Colts except with a lot more offense. It was far less close than the 2003 Championship game romp... maybe a bit like the 2004 championship game against the Steelers? It felt like a game between a championship caliber NE team and a puffed up phony of a Los Angeles team, and what makes that so surprising is this has felt all season to me like the weakest NE team since 2008. Meanwhile, I was under the impression that this was one of the finest Chargers squads since 2010 or so.

181 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

And no one though the Pats "weren't that good" afterwards. I was trying to think of wins after which people were muddled or felt that the Pats performed a lot better than expectations.

In the 2003 AFC Championship game, the Pats dominated the Colts' offense but kicked a bunch of field goals and were meh on offense. I recall folks feeling that the offense would struggle in the Super Bowl, getting eaten alive by the Carolina defensive line, and that scheme had elevated defensive performance beyond their actual strength. There were similar feelings after the 2001 Super Bowl.

The 2011 Denver Game was a Madden-like offensive explosion, and I recall most people feeling that Denver was just playing over its head and NE wasn't nearly as good as they looked in that game. Might have been true--they squeaked over Baltimore the following week and then lost the Super Bowl.


182 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

They lost in the 2012 SB largely because Gronk could barely walk, Welker had a knee injury and Vollmer was very limited. That's football, of course, but when healthy the two TE offense was terrifying (and not just because one of the TE's was Hernandez).
In 2002, the Pats were, understandably, dismissed by pretty much everyone.
Few expected them to get past the 15-1 Steelers either in 2004 (?). I've never seen a 14-2 team more dismissed.

190 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Hi Paddy, Charger fan here. Sorry for the late reply.

I made a post in the AFC Preview thread, last one I believe, that explained why we should expect a NE victory. Knowledgeable LAC fans I spoke to forsaw the same issues. I didn't expect it to get ugly, but said it could, wasn't surprised. (And I didn't see any way we could expect to pull it out.)

As to the defensive collapse, last week they were flying to the ball but the D was sleep walking today - that wasn't the same unit that dropped BAL's Edwards on contact the week before. They've been running on guts and nerves for the last four weeks against bruising opponents. Mental and physical fatigue, not helped by early Offensve outs.

I need to re-watch the game. We were stopping the run well enough early but not the short passes. That Seahawks-style defense limited KC and PIT screen/short game well enough for us to win, but NE and esp. Edelman killed us. We should have adjusted maybe, but coming up aggressively and tackling was missing. Missed tackles, penalties on 3rd, offensive 3 and outs then it just snowballed and the guys were gassed.

Btw, I mentioned NE would probably win 7-8 of 10 with current conditions but would expect it to flip with both teams rested and healthy on a neutral field, and I still think so.

127 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Wild-ass theory: Gus Bradley stuck with the 7 DB defense because he expected that the Pates expected him to come up with something new, so he tried to fool them by not doing anything new!

130 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Other than the 11-5 Cassel campaign, and the two seasons where the Sanchise making the postseason coincided with a semi-functional Gailey offense flirting with 7-9, the AFC east has pretty much been a turnstile to a first round bye for the only competent team. But also more important has been the pollination of ineptitude from the Belichick coaching tree throughout the league, which has increased NE's competetive advantage at the conference level. The lower football IQ owners have done themselves a disservice with the tree-plucking and it doesn't appear to be slowing down. If only they could have figured out a way to lure Ernie Adams ...

135 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Yep. A perfect example would be the Dolphins, who over the last ten (I think that was it) years have finished every year between 6 and 10 wins. Of course, that means they haven't had any great teams in that span, but they've also never been really terrible either. That's been the state of the AFC East for basically the entirety of this long Patriots run.

150 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

The Parcells era in Miami was a rare well-conceived attempt to break the hegemony (as were direct hires from the Parcells tree instead of the Belichick, e.g Payton, Coughlin, other conference though). But how a Casserly-Wolf consultancy could have turned up Maccagnan has hamstrung the Jets for five more years. Just when it appeared that Woody Johnson wasn't completely stabbing in the dark and listening to competent football minds ...

The jury may still be out on Beane in Buffalo but Ross appears to have little clue in Miami, so a divisional reset could be a long time coming.

162 Re: Divisional Round Open Game Discussion

Occasionally the other offenses in the AFC east have been content to hitchhike on the outerskirts of Erhardt-Perkins hell, but most of the time it's not even that creative. If Gase ever figures out how to handle a locker room his hybrid approach could make some waves, but it's doubtful. It may be a few more years until the Reid-Nagy-Pederson trees produce some more candidates with competent game management skills that the AFC east can import (not that they would necessarily or anything).