Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hasn’t found much success facing off against the New England Patriots with Tom Brady at the helm.
That statement is actually too generous. Replace the word “much” with “any,” and it’ll properly reflect the level of futility experienced by Rivers, who is 0-7 against Brady in his career.
That includes a 24-21 loss in the 2006 AFC Divisional Playoffs that might have ended with a different outcome had Chargers safety Marlon McCree given himself up after an interception instead of giving up on holding the football.
McCree’s fumble set the Chargers back and cost head coach Marty Schottenheimer his job despite a 14-2 regular-season record that year.
Also among the losses is a 21-12 setback in a 2008 AFC Championship matchup where Rivers wasn’t all that effective and Hall of Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson was held to two carries for 5 yards and one catch for 1 yard.
History hasn’t been kind to Rivers when he faces Brady, but he has a chance to write a new chapter Sunday afternoon.
This Chargers team is young, hungry and battle-tested on the road, while the Patriots are showing signs that rain may start falling from the cloud they’ve been perched atop for nearly two decades.
Conventional wisdom says not to pick against Brady in the postseason, but trusting that logic didn’t pay off for me in Super Bowl LII.
I won’t get burned again.
Final score: Chargers 27, Patriots 20
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Speaking of men trying to get over the proverbial hump, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid can’t seem to get past the divisional round.
Reid hasn’t made an appearance on the sidelines in a championship game since before Barack Obama was inaugurated. Then the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid’s team suffered a 32-25 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFC Championship.
In today’s contest against a hot Colts squad, the Chiefs have the better quarterback in likely-to-be-MVP Patrick Mahomes. The young gun will outduel veteran quarterback Andrew Luck and push this team to within a game of playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
Final score: Chiefs 33, Colts 27
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
Tonight’s playoff game features a pair of teams with marquee running backs and defenses loaded with talent.
While Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott may run with more power than Rams running back Todd Gurley, the latter is an every-down back with reliable hands and moves that conjure memories of the Marshall Faulk days.
The Rams’ offense might not the best in terms of franchise history (see Warner, Kurt; Greatest Show on Turf), but they’re going to find a way to chip away at the Cowboys.
Elliott, on the other hand, may feel like he’s running at a brick wall if he tries to go up the middle against the best defensive tackle tandem in the league, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is much like Reid and Rivers, but the brass ring is just outside his reach this season.
Final score: Rams 30, Cowboys 23
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
The Eagles are eight-point underdogs in Sunday’s game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, but this bunch likely wouldn’t have it any other way.
One advantage Philadelphia has in this contest is a seventh-ranked defense against the run, and for the Eagles to continue their run back to the Super Bowl, they’ll have to shut down Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
Hopefully, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson watched film from the Saints’ games down the stretch in the regular season because several teams found a way to neutralize quarterback Drew Brees.
If this game’s finish is anywhere close to how it ended in the Eagles’ 16-15 Wild Card win over the Chicago Bears a week ago, then it becomes tougher to deny this is the team of destiny.
I wonder if Philadelphia center Jason Kelce brought the dog masks for the trip.
Final score: Eagles 20, Saints 17
Last week’s record: 1-3
Overall record (through Wild Card weekend): 155-105
Perfect picks: 1