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AFC matchups: Patriots at Chargers, Colts at Ravens

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-nfllookahead&prov=ap&type=lgns">Associated Press</a>

    <img width="324" height="249" title="San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (21) carries the ball in the fourth quarter as New England Patriots' Richard Seymour (93) defends." alt="San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (21) carries the ball in the fourth quarter as New England Patriots' Richard Seymour (93) defends." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/chargers-patriots/CHARGERS3.jpg" />

    By Barry Wilner

    The San Diego Chargers probably expected to see the New England Patriots somewhere in the AFC playoffs. It will happen next Sunday, when the AFC's best team this season hosts the NFL's best team this decade.

    The Patriots secured their trip to San Diego on Sunday with a convincing 37-16 victory over their AFC rivals, the New York Jets. Tom Brady guided three long scoring drives and threw two touchdown passes, and Asante Samuel had a 36-yard interception return for a score with 4:54 left.

    That set up the matchup between New England (13-4), winner of three of the last five Super Bowls, and San Diego (14-2), which had the best record in the NFL and LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year and leading rusher.

    "It's a huge challenge, the best team in the NFL this year, the MVP," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "It's a huge challenge."

    It always is against New England since Bill Belichick became coach. The Patriots are 11-1 under him in the postseason, and they manhandled the Jets (10-7) late in Sunday's game.

    They aren't likely to do that against a Chargers team that has won 10 straight games, went 8-0 at home and scored 492 points, 65 more than anyone else.

    Then again, these are the Patriots, the most resilient team in football. And they have lost only one of their last eight games. They also went 7-1 on the road.

    "They're good on defense," Belichick said. "They're good on offense. They're good on special teams. They can score. They can stop you. They had a week's rest. I'm sure they're going to be ready."

    The other AFC divisional-round game will have Indianapolis at Baltimore next Saturday. The Colts beat Kansas City 23-8 on Saturday.

    In the NFC, nothing would be determined until after the New York Giants' game at Philadelphia later Sunday. Seattle edged Dallas 21-20 on Saturday and will visit New Orleans next Saturday night or Chicago next Sunday.

    Indianapolis (13-4) showed some staunch defense for once in beating the Chiefs (9-8). The lowest-ranked run defense in football held Kansas City to 44 yards on the ground and 126 overall.

    A similar defensive effort might be needed at Baltimore (13-3). The Ravens have the top-rated defense in the league and it certainly will pressure Peyton Manning and his stable of superb receivers.

    But in rookie Joseph Addai, who rushed for 122 yards -- 90 more than Kansas City star Larry Johnson -- the Colts have balance.

    Indianapolis also lost its last four road games after winning the first four. And Baltimore was 7-1 at home.

    "I think it is a fine line," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We have struggled lately, but what we've got to do is find a way to duplicate what we did yesterday -- and play better."

    <a target="_blank" href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-nfllookahead&prov=ap&type=lgns" />
     

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