By Dave Thomas
Is it ever a good thing to play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots after they are coming off of a loss?
Well, the San Diego Chargers will face that task at home this Sunday evening when they host the 9-3 Patriots, a team that just had its seven-game winning streak snapped this past Sunday in Green Bay (26-21).
Meantime, the Chargers took their show on the road this past weekend and came away with a big 34-33 win in Baltimore, giving them a one-game lead over a handful of teams in the AFC wild card hunt, including the aforementioned Ravens.
New England Looks To Stay On Top
With their loss in Green Bay and Denver's win over Kansas City, the Patriots fell into a tie at 9-3 with the Broncos for the AFC's top record. New England would still be the top seed if the playoffs began today given they beat Denver head-to-head earlier in the season in Foxboro.
As anyone who follows football knows, beating New England starts and stops with keeping Brady from having a huge day. While the Patriots are certainly capable of winning a defensive struggle, more often than not, they rely on their three-time Super Bowl winning QB to get the job done for them.
Heading into this Sunday's meeting, Brady has thrown this season for 3,243 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions, giving him a 101.1 QB rating.
The top receiving threats include tight end Rob Gronkowski (910 yards receiving) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (743 yards receiving).
It was just a few weeks ago where a pretty much unheard of running back by the name of Jonas Gray (336 yards rushing on the season) went off for four touchdowns in a win at Indianapolis. Since that game, Gray has pretty much been a non-factor.
Shane Vereen (346 yards rushing) and Stevan Ridley (340 yards rushing) lead the way, though the latter has not played since Oct. 12. LeGarrette Blount (originally played for New England), who was reacquired after being cut by Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, led the Patriots on the ground in the loss at Green Bay with 58 yards on 10 carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Jamie Collins lead the way with 86 total tackles (55 solo), while defensive end Rob Ninkovich leads the way with six sacks.
As the Chargers know, playing the Patriots (New England leads all-time series 22-15-2) is essentially yet another playoff game in the run to get back to the playoffs for the second straight season.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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