It was quite the entertaining weekend in the NFL, but the Sunday Night Football matchup between New England and San Diego may have been the most eventful of them all.
Despite a halftime lead that the Chargers took into the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and company would come roaring back for the Patriots in the final 12 minutes of play. The end result was a 23-14 win for New England, as they clinched their 10th victory on the season. This marks the 12th season in a row that the Patriots have won at least 10 games, and it keeps them ahead of the Broncos for the top spot on the AFC.
The Patriots were first to get on the board when Stephen Gostkowski hit a 22-yard field goal just before the end of the first quarter. However, on the following possession, Phillip Rivers lead an 11-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Floyd. The Chargers would score just moments later, as Darrell Stuckey returned a 53-yard fumble recovery.
It would take nearly 6 minutes, but Gostkowski then hit another 22-yard attempt that brought the score to 14-6. On the next possession, Tom Brady would lead a 4-play drive that ended in a 14-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. The score was 14-10 at halftime in favor of the Chargers, but you could tell that Brady and the Pats certainly had momentum going into the locker room.
The third quarter was stagnant for both teams, as neither was able to get on the board. But after a 5-minute drive in the fourth quarter, Gostkowski would hit another field goal, this one from 38 yards out, as the Pats took their first lead since the first half. The final nail in the coffin was a huge 69-yard reception by Julian Edelman from Brady, as the Pats went up for a final score of 23-14.
The head-to-head matchup between Brady and Rivers is now 6-0 in favor of the former sixth round pick from Michigan. Despite the loss, the good new for San Diego is that they found their way into the Wild Card picture on Sunday thanks to a few other key losses by Miami and other AFC teams hoping to stay in the conversation.
Depending on how things shake out in the following weeks, it’s certainly possible that we could see a rematch of these two teams early on in the playoffs. Before we get to that part, New England will finish up their season with games at home against Miami and Buffalo, as well as a road game against the Jets in Week 16. Be sure to check back with sportspicks.com handicappers for more insight into these games, as well as the playoff picture as we enter the final weeks of the season.
After losing to Green Bay last weekend, the Pats dropped to a second-best 7/2 odds to win the Super Bowl. The only team ahead of them is the Packers at 3/1, and the Broncos are right behind them at 9/2. As for the Chargers, they are in the conversation at 30/1.
Football season is just three weeks from being over, but it looks like the playoff race is just now starting to heat up.