The San Diego Chargers have a ferocious pass-rush, led by LBs Shawne Merriman, Shaun Philips, and a stout defensive line.
So, if the Patriots are going to be successful on offense against San Diego, they'll need another Herculean effort from their entire offensive line, anchored by three Pro Bowlers.
"Their size is real average," former NFL lineman Randy Cross, an analyst for CBS who also works the Patriots' preseason games, told The Sporting News. "But they're extremely powerful, they're well-coached, and from a technique and fundamentals standpoint they're about as solid as anyone out there."
They're also a fun-loving bunch off the field, as the story indicates.
"If you shadowed us and saw what we do on a regular basis, you would see we enjoy each other's company a lot, we have a lot of fun together and we pull a lot of pranks," says Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light. "But when it comes down to football, and how we play, and what we have to do to help win games, we're very serious about that."
The* Washington Post*, meantime, argues that a rules-change meant to thwart the Pats has ended up helping them. The crackdown on defenders touching receivers downfield is benefitting the pass-happy Pats this season, according to the Post's analysis.
"For a number of years, the Patriots took care of just about every part of their team except the receiving corps," former Tennessee Titans GM Floyd Reese observed.
"They hadn't done a whole lot in that area until last year. I think they adapted a little bit to the Indy philosophy. They already had the quarterback and they knew the rules helped those two groups -- the quarterback and receivers. If you don't have the quarterback, the rules don't help you that much."
"They're a pass-first offense and they've opened it up even more this season," added former Redksins and Texans GM Charley Casserly, who was on the NFL's competition committee when the rule was changed.
"The only thing that can get you with an offense like that is the weather. The wind could really hurt you. They do have the ability to run the ball. It's not like they're totally one-dimensional. But they've been a wide-open team for a while and they've evolved to be even more of that because of the personnel they have."
As for the Chargers, they can only hope their season doesn't come down to a field goal this Sunday.
Remember last season's Divisional Playoff against New England, when the Chargers' eventual Pro Bowl kicker Nate Kaeding missed a long attempt that would have tied the Patriots at the end of regulation. That was just one of four misses Kaeding has had in his playoff career with San Diego.
"I haven't had too much success thus far in the playoffs," said an admittedly frustrated Kaeding this week. "Yeah, it hurts me I missed those kicks. It hurts me more than anyone else. As an athlete and competitor, if I sit here and sulk about it, worry about it and let that affect what I do in the future ... In my position you can't show a lot. I have to go out and make kicks."
Recuperating running back Sammy Morris emerged for the first time in months to discuss his progress.
Some of our friends up north in Canada are predicting a Pats-Packers Super Bowl.