By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they are facing a deep, talented, balanced Los Angeles Chargers team in the AFC Divisional Playoff. Considering the Chargers are arguably more talented than the Patriots on paper, on both sides of the ball, the Patriots may have to depend on them to melt under the Gillette Stadium lights like so many teams have.
One thing about that. The Chargers are also the league's most battle-tested team, finishing tied for the best road record in the regular season and upending the Ravens in Baltimore in the Wild Card round. In fact, their only "road" loss came at the L.A. Coliseum against the Rams, so they have yet to lose a game outside of California.
Do the Chargers have the same kind of mental toughness that John Harbaugh's Ravens have shown so many times in Foxborough? Are they going to march into Gillette Stadium and take it to the Patriots, who are a perfect 8-0 on their home field this season? Their own head coach, Anthony Lynn, certainly believes so.
"We have a tough football team, no doubt. I believe that," said Lynn during a conference call with the New England media on Wednesday. "I think going on the road, it really doesn’t faze this team. We love ball, we like playing football, we like competing and we know going into Foxborough, they’re undefeated there and they’re tough to beat, period. It doesn’t matter where you play the Patriots; they’re tough to beat. They have a wealth of experience on their team and they’re well-coached by Coach [Bill] Belichick and his staff. We’re looking forward to coming out there but we know our hands are full."
One thing is for certain, the Chargers certainly don't have big mouths like the Ravens have had in the past. There's no Terrell Suggs equivalent who's spouting off about how little they fear Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They mostly let their performance on the field do the talking, and it's certainly been impressive on the road.
It's just ... this wouldn't be the first time that a team with more talent than the Patriots came into Foxborough and lost themselves. There's just something about the bus trip to Gillette Stadium that makes it feel like the old haunted house on top of the hill. A former Charger once described it as like traveling to the Death Star. The Chargers' signing of a kicker for kickoff purposes only might be the first sign that Lynn could be overthinking things.
What do the Chargers do if the game is tight, or if they're ahead and Tom Brady starts battling the Patriots back like Lamar Jackson started to do in last Sunday's Wild Card game? They're not likely to win in Foxborough if they allow 14 points in the fourth quarter. But if their previous road wins - Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Baltimore among them - are any indication, the Chargers will at least put a competitive effort out there on the Gillette turf.
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 [email protected].