It pains me, and I mean it really pains me, to admit this.
They were the better team by the end of January, partly because the Patriots were completely spent by their quest for an undefeated season.
But they were also a pretty darn good team.
Yes, it’s hard to get past everyone’s favorite head coach, Norv Turner, but he at least proved to be more competent than Wade Phillips was last year (now that was a backhanded compliment).
And frankly, he overcame an extremely tough situation last season to take that team further than his predecessor (whom the fans were not shy about wanting back) ever did.
I’ll give Norv the benefit of the doubt. He’s good enough, or smart enough, not to get in the way of what I think is going to be a juggernaut.
Even the most passionate and biased Patriots fan (and I may be the most biased Patriots fan, for the record) has to admit the Chargers are a far superior defensive team.
Jamal Williams may be the only nose tackle in the league I would consider taking over Vince Wilfork. Luis Castillo is an absolute force. They may not be better than the Patriots’ defensive line (which I consider the best in the NFL), but they’re pretty close.
The further back from the defensive line you get, the more the advantage swings towards the Chargers. Phillips and Merriman are two of the best playmakers in the NFL. Cromartie might be the best playmaker in the NFL. If you read my mock-draft series, then you know what I think about Antoine Cason.
Their defense may not be good enough to completely stop the Patriots’ historic offense, but they’re certainly good enough to slow it down.
Their offense is custom designed to give the Patriots’ defense fits.
Chris Chambers has been causing nightmares in New England for years.
Antonio Gates is a quick, big tight-end who can catch. In case you haven’t been paying attention, nobody on the Patriots’ defense can cover average tight-ends—great tight-ends absolutely kill them.
LaDainian Tomlinson, regardless of what I may have said about his manhood after his disappearance from the AFC Championship game, is still the best offensive player on the planet.
Philip Rivers may not be Tom Brady, but not many quarterbacks are. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s a tough S.O.B. in the playoffs last year. He played on injuries that would have caused LaDainian Tomlinson to retire.
He played well enough to earn my respect—in spite of the fact that I hate his whiny, loud-mouthed guts.
The fact is, on paper, it’s no contest.
Defense beats offense 99 percent of the time.
The 2003 and 2004 Patriots proved the rule time and time again against the Indianapolis Colts.
Unless I’m wrong (and I really, really hope I’m wrong), the 2008 Chargers are going to prove it once again against the New England Patriots.
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.