The San Diego Chargers were in the best race for the AFC West divisional title — at the least they were until Julian Edelman broke free for a 69-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of their struggle with the New England Patriots. The longest pass play of Edelman’s career broke open the defensive battle, and the Patriots handed the Chargers a loss that probably limits their playoff hopes to a Wild Card spot.
The Patriots successfully rebounded from their road loss to the Green Bay Packers and all but guaranteed they will win the AFC East. Combined with losses by the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, the Patriots 23-14 win puts them in a commanding three-game lead with as many games remaining.
In December This is when teams define themselves as legitimate contenders, and the Patriots appear to be the AFC’s strongest contender — and have a great schedule that could secure them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The defenses were the best in this game, and eventually the Patriots’ offense outlasted a strong effort by the Chargers’ defense.
The recent loss to the Packers aside, teams simply cannot retain the size and strength of tight end Rob Gronkowski for an entire game. If the big receiver doesn’t make a difference, Julian Edelman offers a different problem together with his undersized, fearless and shifty open field running. The Patriots are geared up for a heavy run in the playoffs and present matchup nightmares for just about any opponent.
When it comes to Chargers, they have all the pieces, but as in years past, they only cannot turn the corner. On both parties of the ball, the Chargers are adequate to compete, but can’t rise above your competition of true contenders such as the Patriots. They showed that on Sunday night while New England proved they are arguably the AFC’s best team.