Patriots

Is Bill Belichick right to devalue weather in Patriots-Chargers?

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Is Bill Belichick right to devalue weather in Patriots-Chargers?

Bill Belichick has always had a rocky relationship with the weather.

So, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised the New England Patriots head coach doesn't believe Sunday's chilly forecast -- expected to be in the high 20s -- will give his team any edge whatsoever over the Los Angeles Chargers in their AFC Divisional Round clash at Gillette Stadium.

"They're a good football team," Belichick said Friday in a press conference. "We're playing the Chargers. We're not playing the weather. Whatever it is, it is."

To clarify: There's zero advantage in facing a Los Angeles-based team in sub-freezing temperatures?

"Yeah," Belichick responded. "Gonna be on the same field."

We hate to disagree with the greatest NFL coach of all time. But we're of the mind that Mother Nature should at least benefit the Patriots somewhat.

First: The Chargers aren't used to playing in the cold. That's a fact. They've played in just one game this season with a kickoff temperature below 50 degrees -- a Week 15 win at Kansas City in 39-degree weather -- and last Saturday's Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens was played in 51-degree weather. Sunday will be at least 20 degrees colder than all but one game they've played in this season.

Second: Philip Rivers isn't all that good in the cold. The Chargers quarterback has played in just five career games with game-time temperatures at or below freezing and is 1-4 in those contests.

Finally: Tom Brady and the Patriots are very, very good in the cold. The Pats QB boasts a 98.9 passer rating in his last 10 cold-weather games (40 degrees or below), and New England is 13-2 in its last 15 playoff games played in 34-degree weather or colder.

Does that mean Rivers and Co. can't pull off the upset Sunday? Far from it. The Chargers haven't lost a game outside L.A. County this season, going 8-1 on the road (playoffs included) with their only defeat coming to the Los Angeles Rams.

But expect the elements to play more of a role than Belichick would like to admit.

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Here's how Tom Brady, Jared Goff have made Super Bowl history with their ages

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Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will be a matchup of youth vs. experience in several ways, and nowhere else is that more evident than the quarterback position.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more than 17 years older than Rams quarterback Jared Goff, and that represents the largest age gap between starting QBs in Super Bowl history.

Brady's first Super Bowl title, ironically enough, came 17 years ago when the Patriots beat the then-St. Louis Rams 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal. Goff was just seven years old when that Super Bowl was played.

Brady has been great in the playoffs so far, including Sunday's AFC Championship Game win against the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. He led a go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter and won the game in overtime with another clutch drive highlighted by multiple third-down conversions. Goff, in fairness, played pretty well himself against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game and led a late drive to tie the game late, and like Brady, engineered a game-winning march in OT.

Goff is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. So is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and Brady forced him to wait at least another season before lifting the Lombardi Trophy, and you can bet the Patriots QB is dead set on making Goff wait as well.

 

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Rob Gronkowski admits Patriots-Chiefs was "biggest team win" of his career

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Rob Gronkowski has played in a lot of important games for the New England Patriots, and Sunday's thrilling AFC Championship win in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs will stand out in the veteran tight end's mind for a very long time.

"It was just the biggest team win, I would say, probably that I've been a part of," Gronkowski told ESPN's Jeff Darlington. "Going on the road, winning a playoff game, which I never have -- been on the road for playoff games but never won one on the road, so this one's special." 

Gronkowski hauled in six receptions for 79 yards on nine targets. His clutch third-down conversion on the Patriots' final drive in regulation was a remarkable catch, and it helped set up running back Rex Burkhead's go-ahead score with less than a minute left on the clock. The 29-year-old tight end, like he did in the AFC Divisional Round win over the Los Angeles Chargers, also dominated the Chiefs as a blocker in the run game.

Injuries prevented Gronkowski from playing in Super Bowl LI, but he played in Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LII and caught a touchdown in both games. You know he'll be itching to catch another score against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in what could be his last game as a Patriot.

 

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