By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Los Angeles Chargers have been the NFL’s best road team in 2018. The Patriots have been the best home team. Certainly, something’s got to give here.
Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff at Gillette Stadium features a battle between the team with the best home record (the Patriots went 8-0 in Foxborough) and the team with the best road record (L.A. went 7-1 away from their home stadium). So if you’re hoping for the Chargers to wilt under the Foxborough lights and beat themselves like so many teams do (and so many did this season), that’s not terribly likely.
Furthermore, the Chargers went undefeated away from Los Angeles this season. Their only “road” loss came about 12 miles down the road from their current home stadium at Dignity Health Sports Park (yes that’s the actual name) at the Rams’ current home stadium, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. So whenever the Chargers have had to board a plane and fly elsewhere for a game, they have yet to lose.
There are, of course, some added elements to this game against the Patriots. Traveling from the west coast to the east coast isn’t ideal. And it’s going to be cold in Foxborough on Sunday, with the chance of snowfall. But the Chargers have most certainly proven to be a mentally tough team with their seven road wins this season, which included victories in Kansas City, Seattle, and Pittsburgh. You can add Baltimore to that list after Wild Card weekend.
Hey Bill Belichick, how have the Chargers been so good on the road this season?
“Well, they’re a good football team,” Belichick said during a Tuesday conference call. “Let’s start with that. They’ve been in a lot of close games and they’ve won a lot of close games. They’re a good football team. They’re good on offense. They’re good on defense. The kicker’s had a great year. They’ve won a lot of games everywhere.”
On top of their road performance, the Chargers have a deep, talented, and balanced roster in general. Arguably (inarguably) a better one than the Patriots. There have been plenty of those teams to come into Foxborough and melt, as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick simply wait for them to screw up. But the Pats may not have that same luxury against the Chargers.
At the same time, in 2018 the Patriots often looked like the same old Patriots that we’ve come to know over the past 18 years. That almost always came at home. So it’s reasonable to expect that the Pats will be well-prepared, sharp, focused, disciplined, all those things.
Buckle up for this one, because it’s shaping up to be the most competitive game of the playoffs so far. Because one of these teams is about to lose the kind of game that they haven’t lost all season.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.