Sunday night was a good night for New England football fans. Earlier in the day, I saw the Broncos win and I knew the Pats needed a win to stay ahead of them in the AFC, so that they could secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

I also knew that needing a win and pulling one out are two very different things.

The Chargers are a tough match-up for any team in football and I have to admit they had me worried. Philip Rivers is without a doubt a no-joke quarterback and that defense is relentless.

Fortunately enough for me, I root for the New England Patriots.

Also fortunately for me, that typically means my team wins despite any adversity thrown at them.

This game had every chance to go the Chargers’ way.

AP Photo / Denis Poroy

AP Photo / Denis Poroy

They were given endless opportunities to close the deal and win the game, but they couldn’t escape the relentless efforts of the Pats.

They scored a touchdown off of a Brandon LaFell fumble in the first half and the Pats even had a touchdown negated due to a, in my opinion, bogus helmet-to-helmet contact penalty by Brandon Browner.

All the cards fell in their hand and the Pats still managed to find a way to win.

Something I noticed while watching on Sunday night was the fire inside Tom Brady.

Now, I’ve notoriously praised Brady for his passion and emotional approach to the

game, but I feel like on Sunday I watched Brady hit one of his all-time highest levels of intensity.

Never have I ever seen him scream and yell and celebrate and borderline scare me as much as he did this past week.

I personally believe that this was a product of all the balls bouncing in San Diego’s direction.

It seemed like no matter what the Pats did, either the refs or the luck of the bounce was fighting against them, but Brady never stopped fighting.

It’s like the man absolutely thrives on adversity.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Tom Brady is the most competitive athlete I have ever seen.

This Sunday was an impressive win in the face of adversity for the Pats and I look forward to their playoff run starting in just a few weeks.

I think this team can go as far as they want as long as they keep up the kind of passion I saw last night. I’m picking the Pats as my totally non-biased favorite in the AFC, especially if they retain home-field advantage over the Broncos.

I don’t see a single team in the AFC that I think could go into Foxboro and take a win from the Patriots at home.

Jake Coughlin can be contacted at

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