The New England Patriots have appeared in each of the last seven AFC Championship Games, but one ex-NFL star is very confident that streak will come to an end Sunday.
The Patriots will do battle in the divisional round with the Los Angeles Chargers, who notched an impressive wild-card win over the Ravens in Baltimore this past Sunday. Earning a postseason victory over the Patriots in Foxboro will be a much greater challenge, but Shawne Merriman believes his former team is more than up to the task.
During Monday’s edition of “The Herd” on FOX Sports 1, Merriman highlighted a few reasons why he has no doubt of an L.A. victory over New England.
“They’re a lock for me this week,” Merriman said. “The Patriots — yeah, you have Bill Belichick, you have Tom Brady there, but they’re not the same team they were in the past. They’re just not. They don’t bring that kind of stamp to the field anymore. I know they’ve been in the playoffs, they have the experience. But this Chargers team right now, they’re the most resilient team in football. They’ve been through so much. Injuries and the move and people not really paying attention to them and they just use all of it as fuel. Going out there is going to be no different. Them winning on the road, it hasn’t been a problem this year. They’ll go right into Foxboro, it will be competitive, it will be a good game. In the past, the Patriots have always found ways to win. Not this time, I don’t think that’s the case.”
There’s no denying the Chargers’ success on the road, but playing at Gillette Stadium in January is a whole different beast. Not to mention, the current forecast calls for a couple inches of snow, which will make things all the more difficult for Philip Rivers and Co.
The Patriots, of course, are not the juggernaut they’ve been in seasons past, but completely writing them off is foolish, especially on home turf where New England is a perfect 8-0 this season. And when it comes to playoff football, how can you doubt Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
Who knows, maybe Merriman still is bitter about being twice bounced out of the postseason by the Pats in his career.
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