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Heart says D-Day, head says Waterloo

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PonyExpress, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

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    Some thoughts on this titanic matchup...

    Tomlinson faced 3 defenses ranked in the top 12 against the run all season (according to footballoutsiders.com). In those 3 games, week 4 vs. Baltimore (98 yards on 26 carries, 3.8 YPC), week 5 vs. Pittsburgh (36 yds on 13 carries, 2.8 YPC), and week 17 vs. Arizona (66 yards on 16 carries, 4.1 YPC before leaving with a minor injury), his production was mediocre. The Pats have the #10 run defense in the NFL. Of concern is the fact the Pats' run D has declined since Junior Seau's injury vs. Chicago. There are mitigating circumstances: relearning run fits with Vrabel and Banta-Cain in the starting line up, the injury to Wilfork vs. Miami, and several fluke plays. However, the Pats have developed a habit of giving up big plays on the ground down the stretch (Jones-Drew's fluke, Sammy Morris run after Wilfork's injury and the game decided, Travis Henry's scamper with Marquise Hill in the line-up). Still, with Wilfork back in the line-up, Banta Cain and Vrabel acclimated, and the team focusing on the run, the Pats are closer to a top 5 D than what they have shown recently.

    Interestingly, rb Michael Turner destroys top run Defenses, when given an opportunity. In the same games in which LT struggled, Turner rushed for 46 yards on 7 carries vs. Baltimore, 56 yards on 11 carries vs. Pitt, 58 yards on 11 carries vs. Arizona.

    Turner may be a bigger threat to the Pats in this game than Tomlinson. He runs harder, breaks more tackles, and punishes defenders. However, because Tomlinson is the MVP, and jealous of his carries in so important a playoff game, Schottenheimer will want to stick with the "best rb of all-time" (so Marty claims). Therefore, Turner will probably be stuck on the bench.

    Rivers is better than people think. In 8 games against top 15 pass defenses, he had an 88.6 passer rating with a 2.4% interception rate, numbers which suggest he may be an ideal playoff qb, since avoiding INTs is the single most important trait for Qbs come playoff time. In 6 games against top 10 pass defenses, he had an 87.8 passer rating, with a 2.8% INT rate, showing great consistency and mistake free play. In 4 games against pass defenses inside the top 10, he had a 74.9 passer rating, and a 2.1% INT rate. Mediocre, but not disastrous. The Patriots' pass defense is ranked #7.

    The Chargers have very few weaknesses. They have the #1 running game in the league, the #1 O-line, the #2 passing game, the #3 special teams squad, a top 5 TE, a top 5 rb, the best pass rushing defense. The WR duo of Parker and McCardell is effective if unspectacular. 2nd year Wr Vincent Jackson is beginning to show the huge talent that got him drafted in the 2nd rd in 2005, despite playing for a small college (the Pats were scouting him closely). However... the Chargers' run D is surprisingly mediocre, as is the pass D, other than the pass rush.

    The Chargers are going to come out stronger, faster, and more violent than the Pats on both sides of the ball to begin this game. Early on they are going to stop the run, it will take time before their inconsistency against the run begins to show. Their early physical/emotional advantage is the natural result of an extra week of rest and home-field. Fortunately, the SD homefield edge is nothing like the Denver homefield edge. The Pats must weather the early storm, counterpunch and stay in the game until the energy levels even out.

    I believe the Pats will contain, but not stop Tomlinson. I believe Rivers is a gamer and will not lose the game (a la Roehtlesberger 2004) as some expect. I believe Gates will damage the Pats in the red zone. Chris Baker of the Jets, who played very well last week, is only a poor man's Gates. Vincent Jackson at 6'5'' will make some plays down field against the Pats' smaller corners. We cannot simply expect Marty to lose this game with in-game decision making. To count on that is whistling past the graveyard. Marty will probably turn this game over to his coordinators under the advice of protege Bill Cowher, who learned his lesson last year after repeated post-season spankings by BB.

    The Pats have 4 intangible advantages:

    (1) Compared to Brady, Rivers is a hyper, super-emotional hot-head. Sometimes this can come across as charismatic, and other times as BIZARRE. His emotional instability can throw him into deep funks, but his character usually rescues him at some point, so that even in his bad games he can recover to make big throws at crunch time. If Rivers goes into such a funk early, the Pats must take advantage, because he will not stay that way for a full 60 minutes. When Rivers gets on a role, he is unstoppable.

    (2) The Chargers have 9 Pro-Bowlers, 5 All-Pros, and an MVP/Offensive Player of the Year. Post season honors breed complacency and a premature sense of accomplishment among players, the enemy of championship play.

    3) The Chargers have not faced a team as physical or as disciplined in the trenches as the Pats in 3 months. They may be shocked at first when they are unable to dominate as easily as they have come to expect. The lack of confidence may creep into the coaching staff, especially if Rivers begins the game in a hyper emotional funk. The Pats may then run out to an early lead, and neutralize the Charger run game to some extent. Still, the Chargers have a history of big come-backs so an early deficit will not doom the Chargers.

    (4) Schottenheimer often infuses his team with his own anxiety... his job is on the line in this game, as is his legacy. A tight coach often makes for a tight team...

    Prediction: For the 1st time this year I am struggling to pick the Pats in this game. My heart says 27-24 Pats. My wallet is trying to disagree with me, but I'm ignoring it. Sometimes it's best to go down with the ship!!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007
  2. SoonerPatriot

    SoonerPatriot In the Starting Line-Up

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    Re: Pats vs. SD: Heart says D-Day, head says Waterloo

    I have the feeling I did in early 2002 before the AFC title game at Pittsburgh. Everyone found all these reasons why would lose, media and fans alike.

    Meanwhile, I was experiencing a zen like confidence.

    It's been the same this week. My biggest worry is that it's going to be a very nerve wracking afternoon, and my adrenal glands will explode. I'm half tempted not to watch and just check the score afterwards to save myself the roller coaster ride (I hate roller coasters) but that would be cowardly.
     
  3. Cityofchampions33

    Cityofchampions33 On the Roster

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    I know what your saying about Turner, but I think any run-stopping scheme that can stop LT that BB can think of will stop Turner somewhat. However, we have tor emember that this offense is not just LT and gates, we can't loose focus and take their otehr players for granted. I can't see any team getting blown out in this one, and I like your prediction, but who knows, it could be Florida-OSU again, let's hope we're Florida
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007
  4. TomBrady'sGoat

    TomBrady'sGoat 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    I'm curious what you'd find if you looked at how R-whatever played against top pass defenses in '04. until I'm given more reasons to think that Rivers is different from R-whatever and every other QB in his first playoff game I don't see him being anything but a weakness. Even Brady had a pretty crappy first game. As I've always said about the tuck game, the Raiders blew it by allowing the Patriots to stay in it.

    I'm really hoping that the combination of rustiness and complacency puts SD in an early whole. I want the score to be 14-0 and Chargers players have a "damn, we're gonna need to play to win this game" moment. Even good coaches sometimes have a hard time convincing his players they aren't as great as they think they are, add Marty to the mix...
     
  5. Clonamery

    Clonamery PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #4 has been well-documented. He has taken down very good teams at home in the playoffs before........but this is his best team. Yes, his legacy IS on the line. And yet like most football games it will turn on a handful plays. God, I wish Troy Brown was 28 and returning punts....
     
  6. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    First I have to say, excellent post. I also have to say, this is one where we get to be the "Patriots faithful," because "faith" is believing when you have scant or no supporting evidence. We can tweak this way, tweak that way, cite postseason records, Belichick vs. MVPs, the way we handled Faulk in SB 36, whatever.... but we all remember what BB said after that game (paraphrasing from memory here...) "Can you believe we won with that bunch?"

    Well, it's a better bunch than won 36, and the Chargers are not as good a bunch as we beat. LT is a shade better than Faulk at his peak, and the Chargers' aerial attack is nowhere near the Rams', circa 2001.

    That said, it's the final comment that makes the most sense. Here we are with most stats pointing to a loss, yet we don't feel like it's time to go home yet. There's nothing to do but say "yeah well, we still think we win this one." If a team has to be better than us by all the stats, this one is built in such a way that we can win it (as opposed to, say, the Broncs, who give us fits even if they are otherwise mediocre.)

    We'll know Sunday night. I hope we know something we like knowing.

    PFnV
     
  7. BlitzFritz

    BlitzFritz Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Have faith.

    1. What team has EVER run against a Belichick playoff defense? I cant think of one, and that includes Denver last year, Pittsburgh the year before.

    2. The game will hinge on Rivers. Can he withstand the pressure? I don't think so.

    3. Don't forget, in the words of Rodney Harrison, "We will win this game. We will win because we have Tom Brady."

    I can't even work, waiting for Sunday to come!
     
  8. SVN

    SVN Hall of Fame Poster

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    i think this game may be more won by our offense than D...move the ball, protec t brady,control the clock kinda game
     
  9. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A: Gus Scott--SS
    Dwayne Starks--CB
    Monte Biesel--ILB
    Chad Scott--ILB
    Q: Name 4 players no longer on the Pats team since we lost to the Chargers

    The last time we played in SD, we were behind and turned the game around in the 2nd 1/2, going on a SB run.

    It has been my thought that this team has been improving going into the playoffs, that each game has shown consistently better production. The Jets game certainly did as well. We still have the capacity for improvement, particularly on offense. Playermakers who haven't reached their full potential-Watson, Maroney, and Jackson. No reason why these guys can't step up and meet expectations. If they can, we won't look back.
     
  10. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    You make a good point about how bad NE was defensively the last time SD came to town, but NE also lost their first game of the year in 2002 against the Chargers.

    Of course, a case could be made that the 2002 also bears almost no resemblence to the one travelling to SD this week.
     
  11. fillylabinga

    fillylabinga Practice Squad Player

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    Think you mean Chad Brown.
     
  12. NYCPatsFan

    NYCPatsFan In the Starting Line-Up

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    No Jersey Selected

    Excellent post to an excellent analysis.

    I am having trouble explaining to the sneering NY crowd here how the Pats can win. None of our #s make any plausible reason why we can win but as you said, deep inside, I have faith that we can pull this one off.

    I think of the times in the past when everyone wrote us off against the Rams, the Colts and others. And how everytime we managed to play as a team and did the impossible.

    Here is hoping and having faith that we do it again, and again, and again.

    GO PATS!!
     
  13. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    This game reminds me of the 2004 AFC Championship against Pittsburgh. The Steelers were an excellent team, it would take the Patriots best effort to win and then dominated. San Diego is a tougher matchup but I think they can do it, my vision was that the Ghost hits a 42 yarder to give us a 10 pint lead with 3 minutes left. We hang on to a 3 point victory!

    Go Pats!
     
  14. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    I also think Rivers is better than people think, but I thought that too of Rothlisberger in 2004 before that Jets playoff game (which made me confident the following week). Sunday will tell the tale if he's Tom Brady 2001 or Ben Rothlisberger 2004.

    I agree 100%. If the Pats went 3-and-out (or 4- or 5-and-out) on their first possession, I wouldn't be surprised. During the initial surge by the Chargers, the Pats need to keep San Diego from jumping out to an early lead via touchdowns. If the Pats can get out of the 1st quarter in a tie game or down by 3 at most, things should look brighter the rest of the way. If the Pats come out of the 1st quarter up 7 or more, San Diego is in trouble.

    If the Chargers get behind, they will continue to run (much like KC did against the Pats in that 41-38 OT thriller in 2002). They did this in their Cincy comeback earlier this year. They will never fully abandon the run in favor of the pass.

    I'm going down with the ship, too. Mostly because I think Rivers *might* pull a Rothlisberger and if any team is going to make a QB regress horribly in a playoff game, it's going to be the BB Pats.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  15. WaBoltsFan

    WaBoltsFan Rookie

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    "Superficially, Romo reminds me of Montana more than any QB I've seen in awhile. He has mobility, plus accuracy and poise."


    oh please more mr wizard, these pat fans must soooo value your insight.


    :singing:
     
  16. cblesz

    cblesz Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    Solid, thorough analysis PonyExpress. I have to agree with you on many fronts. San Diego is gonna come out tough and we need to neutralize it. The game scares the crap out of me, but so did the Pittsburgh game a couple years ago and the Indy game before that (Hey, we were expected to lose at Denver last year and did. But dominated that game. Take away the stupid turnovers and it is a different result). The Pats should be very competitive and a bounce here or there could change the game dramatically. LT scares the crap out of me, but Rivers neutralizes that fear somewhat. he has declined throughout the season and should be a little rusty with the extra week off. Get to him, fluster him and we have a shot. In addition, we need to get out to a lead and make SD one dimensional.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007
  17. hwc

    hwc In the Starting Line-Up

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    We need to remember that the Chargers have not played a top 10 rushing defense (yards per game) since they played the Ravens and the Steelers the first two weeks of October. Since then, they have been feasting on some of the worst run defenses in the NFL

    They've only played three teams in this year's playoffs -- and, honestly, I don't know that wins over the Chiefs and Seahawks are really that impressive. They lost to the Ravens. Otherwise, they've been beating up on the weak sisters of the poor.

    I think San Diego has a very sold team. But, let's not get the annointing oil out just yet.
     
  18. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Just want to say thanks for an excellent analysis, PonyExpress. I think the Chargers are super-confident, which they've earned -- great record, and possibly the best pure talent in the league. They're also going to be jacked up. In addition to the bye week, remember that SD missed the playoffs last year and was a disappointing one-and-done the season before. If the Patriots can weather the initial adrenaline onslaught, they should be able to turn all the intangible factors to their advantage.
     
  19. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Pro Bowl Player

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    I agree. I think everyone knows how good LT is... but he's not Superman. And even if he is who is to say that BB doesn't have the kryptonite ready? The Pats have stopped GREAT backs in the past. Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James come to mind. They can do it again and this year's Pats run D is one of the stoutest they've had in years. If there is a scheme, BB will find it. If there is a will there is a way! I expect Tom Brady to will this team to another victory, and so should you!

    Nobody gives the Pats a chance. But we Pats fans know better and we BELIEVE. When the odds look their bleakest, that is just when the odds are about to turn.

    Go Pats!
     
  20. jct

    jct Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I totally agree with the sentiments of the author.
    Basically the consensus of the NFL says that SD is the best.
    They are ranked #1 everywhere.
    As football fans we need to acknowledge what they have done so far this year.
    But that is where it stops.
    Frankly my biggest concern going into SD is the REFs.
    They showed us last year just how much they can affect an outcome.
    I'm certain BB will have a masterful plan.
    I'm certain with proper execution we can win possibly even easily.
    But this season has been a victory no matter the outcome.
    It is as if we spotted the NFL a 1st round draft choice.
    The truth is the winner of this game will almost certainly win the Superbowl.
    Have faith.
    (Too bad we didn't trade for D Edwards before the season)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007

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