The Chargers best game

The meat. No potatoes. That what the next stretch of games brings to the table for the Chargers. It starts with the Patriots where they will need their best game to come out with a victory on the road.

The Chargers go overboard in stressing they are not living off their 2004 success. But it's difficult not to notice that heading into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, the visiting Chargers are at the same station as in 2004.

As in their won-loss record: 1-2.

This time last year, the 1-2 Chargers seemed primed for another stinker after stumbling from the gate.

Hotshot rookie Philip Rivers had been elevated to the backup role and starter Drew Brees was being shopped like a used car.

But before anyone could open his hood and kick the tires, Brees got hot. The Chargers followed suit by cranking out a 12-4 record and earning their first AFC West title since 1994.

Deja vu, anyone?

"We got a tremendous challenge ahead of us going up to New England to play the world champs," Brees said. "This is a great opportunity for us. If we can get to 2-2 then we're right where we were last year at this time."

Except for one difference.

"Really, I feel like we are a better team than we were last year," he said.

Good thing. Because if the Chargers are to emulate last year's bunch, they'll be tested mightily over the next four weeks.

Consider the following month's worth of games the team will play three of the four finalists in their respective conference championship games last year: at New England, Pittsburgh, at Philadelphia.

"You want to talk about some challenging games ... there are some tough, tough opponents," said Brees, who was sensational in Sunday night's win over the New York Giants, completing 19-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two scores. "But I feel like we went though a period that we had to dig down deep and we performed.

"Now we feel like we got that rhythm going, got that confidence we need to go up to New England and play well - that's all there is to it - and get a victory. It's going to be a heck of a game and I really look forward to it."

Looking back, the Chargers will face a depleted New England secondary. But Brees and his teammates aren't acting like they are catching a break.

"They've fought through injuries before," Brees said. "I think with that system that they run, everyone knows what they are doing; they play very unselfishly and they are very efficient. They have proved it time and time again.

"We need to say 'let's play our best game and we got a chance to win.'"

And a chance to repeat a run in which the Chargers went 11-2 after a 1-2 start.


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