OK, OK, I was wrong in my prediction that the Colts woud be the Pats opponent in the AFCCG. I think I made that assessment because of the obvious simatry (sp?) because of last year, and the nice rivalry and history that's evolved with the Colts... But also, contrary to popular wisdom, I felt the Colts would be the LESS dangerous opponent. Here's why! 1. I thought the match up of special teams was a real positive match up for the Pats 2. I thought that without Freeney, the Colts would have a very difficult time putting any consistent pressure on Brady, just like they didn't put much pressure on Rivers. And having no pressure on Brady would hurt a lot more than it would with the Chargers. 3. I was unafraid of the Colts running game, it had done NOTHING down the stretch, while the Pats run defense was improving...and they didn't do anything on the ground on Sunday. 4. I felt that the Pats having the homefield advantage, in the cold, would be a big advantage, 5. I felt the size advantage the Pats had on the Colts D would be big as the game goes along, especially in the running game. Like I said, there would have been some Karmic justice beating the Colts to a pulp for the AFCCG, and nothing would have been better than to get a shot of Polian eating crow after the Pats crushed his team... But that is NOT going happen. Its the Chargers we are going to face and in a lot of ways they present a tougher threat than the Colts. Lets take a look at their strengths and how they play against the Pats. 1. They have a DL/LB corps that CAN put pressure on Brady without a lot of Blitzing. Castillo, Williams, Olshansky, and Merriman have the ability to put consistent pressure on Brady. Phillips is a good rushing OLB, so the Pats will have to be balanced with 2 guys who have rush ability on each side, and potential pressure up the middle with Williams and Olshansky 2. Cromartie is playing at a very high level and has the size and freak athletism possibly cover a Randy Moss one on one, which frees up people to cover the rest of the Pats receivers 3. Regardless of who is the RB the Chargers have a running game that matches up with what the Jags can present 4. The Charger OL was the real reason Rivers had time and the runners had openings. This is a an OL that is better than the Colt's 5. Finally this is a team that NOW has great mental toughness and resiliancy, because not only did they have to overcome a tough homefield DISadvantage, injuries to their top 3 offensive players; they had to overcome the fact that nearly every big call went against them including the holding on the pick return and the phantom PI that the Colts seem to get in very big game. 6. SD has a better special teams group than the Colts, so we somewhat lose THAT big advantage. Now I'm not saying that the Charger WILL beat us. We have a lot of advantages this week, even though its not the Colts. Let me just mention a few. 1. First there is the simple logistics of the Chargers having to take a long trip back to SD, and THEN turn around in about 4 days and come all the way EAST. That's even tougher than what we had to do LAST year. 2. This will be their 3rd tough game in a row. It will be difficult for them to regain the same intensity after such an emotional victory. Remember this isn't the most emotionally stable team to begin with, nor are they led by a guy who can easily reign that in. 3. They ARE hurt. I'm fairly confident they both LT and Rivers will play. I was very surprised, given how well they BOTH looked on the side line, that neither came back. Rivers particularly 4. Lets not foget that for all the Merriman antics and the talent they have, THIS SD Defense allow Manning to pass for over 400 yds through the air, and the Pats have a better, more explosive passing attack than the Colts, with a better offensive line. 5. The Pats running defense is getting better and better. The Giants and Jags profess to have better than average running games, and NEITHER broke 100 rushing yds. Though I'm sure the national media will ignore this and spend the rest of this week talking about the Pats vunerability vs the run. 6. The home field AND the weather will both be BIG advantages for the Pats. Next week promises to be VERY cold, something that most Pats have had experience with, and very few of the Chargers have. General comments on today's action. 1. This has to be VERY satisfying for Norv Turner. He's taken a lot of flack from fans, media types.....and me this year, and now has his team just one step from the superbowl and 2 more post season wins than Marty. 2. On the other hand this has to be very embarassing to Wade Phillips. The Cowboy's lack to sharpness, and their mental mistakes are an indication that being such a "player's coach" can hurt a team. The Cowboys have being going down hill for several games now, and the fact that THAT offense with all those weapons couldn't score against a Giant secondary that was so desparate for ANY DBs, I wouldn't have been surprise to see Earthwind out there. BTW- I just LOVED the shot of Jones on the sidelines at the end of the game. He looked like he was just going to CRACK that facelift in half. 3. I'm not sure who I want in the Superbowl. It would be great to have redemption aganist the Packers for the 95 team, yet on the other hand wouldn't it be even better to see the "Manning pouty face:"...on ANOTHER Manning....PLUS putting ANOTHER pasting on the city of NY. (though you have to be a Boston Pats fan to understand the last part. Look forward to breakng this down in detail during the week.