Chargers’ Coaching Can’t Compete With Pats’ Genius

    He entered the game to laughs and hisses, fans of his team
    already predicting his misses. The game was close, he resembled not a savior;
    going three and out almost seemed like a favor. And then things turned, and
    confidence rose, as he made not just the handoffs, but also the throws. A
    pre-destined win for the home team, until somebody stole it, for with a
    one-yard dive, was born the legend of Billy Volek.

    Sighs were heard throughout the constantly expanding Charger
    Nation when San Diego backup quarterback Billy Volek made his way onto the
    field during the pivotal fourth quarter against the heavily favored
    Indianapolis Colts.

    There were a select few (me) who rose above the popular
    dissension and cheered the Hemet-born, Fresno State-educated quarterback’s arrival,
    and like Volek, they too were redeemed on each of his successful pass attempts
    and his game-winning touchdown plunge (yay, me!).

    However, even the most strident of Volek fans would be
    fooling themselves if they think he should be starting in the AFC Championship
    game against the New England Patriots. No matter what Volek or backup running
    backs Michael Turner and Darren Sproles accomplished in the RCA Dome, the
    Chargers need both their MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and their brash starting
    quarterback, Philip “The Balls” Rivers (a nickname he truly needs and
    deserves), to compete with the juggernaut that is the New England Patriots.

    The Pats have made it to 17-0 by playing the kind of
    football you might have seen on Madden ’05 Pro Level, where you could basically
    throw underneath routes all day, do same crazy blitzes from off-screen and
    cruise to dominating wins. Sure, an occasional game would end up being close,
    but there was no doubt that you’d be able to throw a few passes to your running
    backs, find the TE coming across the middle and score when needed.

    They’re good, they’re great and they’re another successful
    team from a Northeastern city that has become increasingly annoying. ESPN spent
    a week stacking the Patriots up against every great team in NFL history, not
    paying much attention to how easy it is to stack up big passing games with
    today’s rules, and basically anointing them champions before the first playoff
    game.

    The most appropriate analogy for the New England Patriots is
    this: they’ve become those “question kids” who inhabit so many classes. They
    take up so much time, they’re always there and they annoy the hell out of
    everyone except the select few who share their overachieving background or just
    don’t know any better.

    This is the reason we will be looking at bandwagon Patriots
    fans for the next decade. It’s not that these people really like New England —
    they just started paying attention this season and thought an undefeated team
    with a scruffy quarterback who looks constipated seemed like a good fit.

    The San Diego Chargers have a running game that can
    successfully keep the vaunted Patriots offense off the field for a long time,
    no matter who’s running, while also wearing down their veteran defense. On the
    other side of the ball, San Diego has a defense, or more precisely a few
    specific defensive players who should have no problem doing what so many
    players have shied away from all season long: knock Tom Brady down. Hard.

    Sure, Shawne Merriman is a Pro Bowler with a fun nickname
    and an awkward sack dance, but if he gives Brady the ol’ Ike Turner Special,
    Merriman goes from San Diego Hero to National Icon. Colts fans will bake him
    pies, Eric Mangini might knit him a sweater and I’m pretty sure Bridget
    Moynahan would have his babies and not ask for alimony.

    Unfortunately, even if Rivers pimp-slaps Bill Belichick and
    steals his hoodie, the Chargers are not going to be able to break this streak.
    Remember, Nervous Norv Turner is still the head coach in San Diego, and all
    those people who praised him after the Colts win would have been calling for
    him to be fired had the Chargers lost, just as management threw Marty
    Schottenheimer under the bus when it was his players’ bonehead decisions, not
    Martyball, that cost the Chargers the win against the Patriots in the playoffs
    last year. Well, LT and the rest of the team have a chance to payback the Pats
    for their classless actions at the end of that game, but it will take a lot of
    heroes to make that happen.

    Unless Junior Seau pulls the old switcheroo and rips off his
    Patriots jersey to reveal Chargers colors it’s going to be a long afternoon.
    Hope for the best, San Diego, but prepare for the worst.

    Prediction: Patriots 27, Chargers 16

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