OK, can we spare a moment to talk about tomorrow's Chargers-Patriots game?
First, about this picture- I sent the Book Elves out with the instruction "find me the best picture of the Patriots during a game you can find". They're a dedicated bunch, those Book Elves.
The experts all pick San Diego, for obvious reasons. On paper the Chargers have the most talent, but the Patriots could win if they are the better team- better at executing as a team, and smarter as a team on the field. That's the way they always win, every time the experts count them out.
The first key will be the Patriots defense- this is a group that bends but does not break; that gives up points, but doesn't give up games by doing stupid things at the wrong time. This is perhaps the best kind of defense to have against the Chargers stunningly potent offense. No, they will not stop LaDainian Tomlinson. Nobody stops LaDainian Tomlinson. But they may be able to minimize the damage he does. Another key will be the ability of the Pats defense to create turnovers and points, something else they have been very good at over the years. The Chargers can be held to 20-27 points a game by a good defense. The problem other teams have had is that they always seemed to score fewer points than that.
So- the Offense. The key here will be for Tom Brady to have enough time to work. If he can get that extra second or two he could be effective against the Chargers secondary, which is not as fearsome as the rest of their team. There is no better quarterback to have for that sort of task than Tom Brady.
This game is going to come down to talent vs. brains. The Chargers are by far the most talented team in the NFL this year. The Patriots have built their dynasty on being a thinking team that can change strategies on a dime, mid-game, with solid players who have the ability and attitude to follow their coaches instructions and execute. When they do that they have a better-than-even chance of winning.
Look for the Pats defense to force turnovers in the 2nd and 4th quarters, and for the Chargers, as they usually do, to come charging back in the 4th.
Final score- well, I have to be optomistic, otherwise what's the point? The game could go either way, but I'm going to predict that the Patriots can keep the Chargers to somewhere between that average of 20-27 points. For the Pats, Tom Brady & Co. should be able to score a couple of touchdowns, and add two field goals; to win they'll need the defense to force a turnover that results in another touchdown. Final score- Patriots 27 / Chargers 23.
Not that I over-analyze these things or anything...
One final prediction- whoever wins ths game will go on to win not only the AFC championship next week, but the SooperDooper Bowl.