Patriots blowout win was a direct message to Chiefs

NFL

New England’s blowout win over Los Angeles on Sunday was a flex on everyone who had written them off.

Bill Belichick knew exactly what he was doing when he ordered his Patriots to bludgeon the Chargers to death in the Divisional Round on Sunday.

There’s nothing subtle about blowing a team’s doors off in a playoff game.

Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers were nothing more than a sacrificial lamb, collateral damage in the Patriots mission to send a message to everyone who doubted them. The final score was 41-28, but it was a mercy killing. It was also a direct message to everyone swooning over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. It was a shot at the pundits who picked the Chargers to come into Foxborough and overthrown the empire.

We do this every year, when will they learn, thought the Patriots (probably).

More than ever before, it felt easy to make the Patriots the afterthought we’ve been trying to make them for the last few years. After the season Patrick Mahomes had in Kansas City, and how the Chiefs finally exorcized their playoff demons on Saturday, pundits have a new darling favorite to swoon over. Meanwhile, the screws began to loosen on the wheels for New England.

Stephen Gostkowski forgot how to convert kicks. Rob Gronkowski’s body broke. Tom Brady had his lowest QBR since 2014 and threw for under 30 touchdowns for the second time in three years. The team lost five games in a season for the first time this decade.

Then there’s the road record. All five of New England’s losses came on the road and none of those teams made the playoffs.

Now the Patriots have to go on the road to one of the loudest venues in football and play a defense that schemes man coverage. In Andy Reid’s last three regular season games against New England his offense has posted 40-plus points; only one of those games had Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. The Chiefs are averaging over 32 points at home, while the Patriots have been outscored 142-83 in their five road losses.

It’s a collision of bad trends, but somehow the Patriots have historically been immune to their deficiencies. Despite everything that has gone wrong, New England clinched its eight straight AFC Championship game. They did so by shredding a team that handed the Chiefs their first and only home loss of the year. It’s a message, and not one intended to be subtle.

Disappointment may await the Patriots next week in Kansas City. But for all the bad trends in the air, the worst is everyone’s record in predicting when the New England dynasty will collapse.

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