Eagle: Chargers Are More Talented Than Patriots

The Chargers have the better team, but can they beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Foxboro?

The DA Show
January 10, 2019 - 12:07 pm

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The Los Angeles Chargers own an unheard of stat this season: They have not lost a single game in which they’ve boarded a flight.

How is that possible? How does a franchise that missed the playoffs in seven of its previous eight seasons suddenly become unbeatable when flying across the country – or world – for a game?

“Well, I think you have to look at their home situation and the fact that they’ve been so emboldened and empowered by the fact that they don’t have a complete crowd that is on their side when they’re at home,” Westwood One announcer Ian Eagle said on The DA Show. “Most people will look at that as a negative: you don’t feel like you’re at home when you’re at home. But I think it’s connected them in some way, that they can face any obstacle, even at home when they have 60 percent of the audience wearing Kansas City Chiefs gear.”

That’s not hyperbole, either.

“That’s what I saw in the season-opener,” Eagle said. “Season-opener, I did the Chargers and the Chiefs, and I’m telling you there was a sea of red in Carson, California. That’s your season-opener for a really good Charger team. So with that said, going on the road is not a big deal to them.”

The Chargers have won in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver and Baltimore, among other cities. Yet, their toughest challenge may come Sunday in New England.

“I think this has been building throughout the year,” Eagle said. “They feel a little bit indestructible when they get on an airplane and face the challenge of going on the road. They don’t see it the same way that other teams may see it. They went to Baltimore, went back 3,000 miles, came back now and they’re going to head to New England on Friday. It just works for them.”

The Patriots, for the first time in a long time, have looked vulnerable this season. They lost their most games (five) since 2009, they lost back-to-back games in December, and they almost had to play during Wild Card weekend.

“I saw them when they’ve played very well, and I saw them when they didn’t play all that well,” Eagle said. “The Tennessee game comes to mind. Mike Vrabel – who is certainly familiar with the Patriots and their personnel and their coaches – he had a plan, and that was to pressure Brady up the middle. A lot of stunts. It was effective, and Tom didn’t look like himself. I think Los Angeles will try to follow that. They’ve been very creative on defense.”

Chargers defensive coordinator – and former Jacksonville head coach – Gus Bradley deserves a lot of credit for that.

“Gus Bradley – who did not get any interviews, didn’t get any nibbles as a head coach – to me, at some point, he will deserve another chance,” Eagle said. “I just am blown away with the job that he’s done, and he’s looked outside the box to do things with Los Angeles. Personnel-wise, they’ve been in a precarious position because of injuries with the linebacker position. He’s basically taken defensive backs, he’s turned them into linebackers if need be. And last week against Lamar Jackson, most people thought they were crazy playing seven DBs. It was the right play, and it proved to be maybe the winning play for setting the tone in that game.”

But beating Lamar Jackson is one thing. Can the Chargers beat Brady and Belichick on their home turf?

“Philip Rivers is going to have to deal with the same questions that he deals with all the time,” Eagle said. “The pressure in clutch situations, playoff game, on the road, tight one late – can he do it? I think he can. I’ve been impressed with how rejuvenated he’s been with this offense. You go player for player with these two teams right now, I think the Chargers are the more talented team than New England.

“I like the makeup of this Charger team. I like their head coach. I think Anthony Lynn has been the perfect fit. No-nonsense attitude, he’s not trying to be somebody else. He has proven to be the right guy with the right touch for this team. I think they’re equipped to do it, but (the Patriots) always seem to find a way at home in the divisional round.”