The Los Angeles Chargers did nothing right in the first half of their AFC Divisional game against the New England Patriots, but no play was more backbreaking that Desmond King’s muffed punt late in the first half.
King, a standout return man all season for the Chargers, was unable to catch the punt late in the second quarter Sunday with his team already behind 28-7. Initially, it was ruled that the football went out of bounds before anyone could recover, but the video evidence showed that New England’s Albert McClellan clearly had the ball before it touched the white line.
— NFL France (@FirstDownFR) January 13, 2019
The Patriots went on to make Los Angeles pay, turning the short field into another touchdown to go up 35-7 and essentially kill off the game before it was even halftime.
Early on, it looked like the Chargers had a chance with plays like this. New England buried them very quickly after that, and this was just the backbreaking blow.
The New England Patriots have benefitted from sub-zero temperatures and inclement weather numerous times over the years during the postseason, and they want to remind the Los Angeles Chargers that Mother Nature is once again on their side for a playoff game.
On Sunday, a Patriots employee taped an outdoor thermometer to the wall at Gillette Stadium right near where the Chargers will take the field. It read roughly 20 degrees at the time and is not expected to change much before kickoff.
Taped to the side of the stands where the Chargers will walk on to the field at Gillette Stadium, a reminder of today’s frigid forecast. pic.twitter.com/maO4IUX4rb
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 13, 2019
The Chargers have overcome plenty of obstacles this season, and they are a perfect 9-0 outside of LA. If any team is not going to be intimidated by freezing temperatures, it should be this one. The Chargers were able to beat the Baltimore Ravens in a tough road environment last week, though they may have benefitted from some controversial plays.
But you can’t blame the Patriots for trying. They’re certainly more accustomed to the cold than many of their opponents, so that should give them an advantage.
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The New England Patriots may have yet another big hole to fill on their coaching staff this offseason, and Greg Schiano is once again being viewed as a top candidate to fill it.
Numerous reports have indicated that Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores is expected to be named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins as soon as New England’s season ends. With that in mind, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network noted on Sunday that we should not be surprised if Schiano ends up joining Bill Belichick’s staff.
From @gmfb Weekend: The #Patriots will lose defensive play-caller Brian Flores to the #Dolphins when their season is done, while Greg Schiano looms as a possible replacement. pic.twitter.com/ID08GV6OhY
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 13, 2019
ESPN’s Mike Reiss had the same idea, and he noted that Belichick and Schiano have maintained a strong relationship. Belichick drafted numerous players from Rutgers when Schiano was the head coach there from 2001-2011.
Schiano was reportedly offered a spot on Belichick’s staff a year ago when Matt Patricia left to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions, but he ultimately decided to remain at Ohio State. Now that he has left the Buckeyes to pursue NFL opportunities, he just might wind up in New England.
The New England Patriots may have to replace some members of their coaching staff and front office this offseason, but offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will not be one of them.
McDaniels confirmed on Tuesday that he will remain with the Patriots in 2019. He told reporters he was thankful for the opportunity to interview with the Green Bay Packers for their head coaching vacancy but will not be conducting any more interviews this year.
"The book is closed. It's always a humbling experience to have an opportunity. … I'll be here moving forward. …I've said before, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world." – Josh McDaniels, to @PhilAPerry, on if he anticipates interviewing for any other jobs this year
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 8, 2019
McDaniels added that he had “no idea” if his decision to back out of an agreement to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last offseason impacted the way teams viewed him this time around, but he emphasized how happy he is with New England. He also said he did not speak with the Cleveland Browns about their head coaching vacancy.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) January 8, 2019
The Packers have chosen to make Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur their next head coach, and it’s unclear how committed McDaniels was to being considered for that job.
Many believed McDaniels was assured he would be the head-coach-in-waiting in New England after he backed out of the Colts agreement last year, but it does not appear that is the case. That said, he did turn down a head coaching interview with at least one team recently. We’ll likely hear his name come up when head coaching searches commence again next offseason.
The Green Bay Packers have reportedly agreed to hire Matt LaFleur to become their next head coach, and the New England Patriots may have emerged as big winners from the decision.
As Ian Rapoport of NFL Media notes, the only known head coaching interview Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had was with the Packers. One report indicated he was the leading candidate for the job, but that was apparently not the case.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 7, 2019
There have also been rumblings that McDaniels would want to coach the Browns, as he grew up in the Cleveland area. However, it does not appear there is mutual interest there.
McDaniels backed out of an agreement to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last offseason to return to the Patriots, and he reportedly turned away another team recently. With Tom Brady expected to return for another season in 2019, it sounds like McDaniels will continue in his current role for at least one more year.
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We now know the 12 teams that will play in the NFL playoffs with a chance to win the Super Bowl. Some come in hotter than others, while every one of them has flaws to be mindful of. Much can also depend on the draw: some teams got much tougher opponents than others, and home field advantage can matter a lot this time of year.
Who has the path of least resistance to the Super Bowl? We’re ranking all 12 teams from toughest to easiest in terms of that path.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
If the Eagles want to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they’re going to have to go through the entire NFC without the benefit of a single home game. Their first game alone is incredibly difficult, as they travel to Chicago in January to take on the vaunted defense of the Bears with Nick Foles under center. Get past that game and they have to go to New Orleans to face the Saints. Those are about the two roughest road games you can get in these playoffs, and if they can escape both of them, they’ll have earned whatever comes next.
While there are still a handful of teams in contention for the final spots, we have a pretty good idea of who will be participating in the NFL playoffs. We also know who’s entering them hot and cold. Momentum can be overrated, but you’d rather be playing well and growing in confidence heading into the playoffs than the other way around.
So which teams are going to prove the most dangerous and who will be the toughest out? Here are ten teams that will be very dangerous in the postseason.
10. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys can be a very hit-or-miss team, but when they’re on, they’re as dangerous as any team in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott is a leading talent at running back and they are a very sound defensive team that hold opponents to roughly 19 points per game. Much depends on the performance of Dak Prescott at quarterback, and they have a clear split between their home form and their road form. They’re going to get a home game first, though, and that’s not great news for their opponent.