PHILIP RIVERS said Wednesday that his Los Angeles Chargers would be flying into the Boston area a day early, today, to try to get used to the Eastern time zone.
There was no mention on the conference call of the weather.
The cold weather.
In case you don’t know, it’s usually warm in Southern California. Sunday, at kickoff, it’s supposed to be cold, very cold. The snowstorm making its way across the country is supposed to miss this area.
As you also likely know, the weather around here tends to change. But the cold isn’t going anywhere. Advantage, Patriots, who practiced outside in snow flurries Thursday.
“I think if we play well (at home), the crowd’s into it, but the one positive I see from being here is that we practice in the elements all the time,” Tom Brady said recently. “Going out and executing in whatever conditions, hopefully we handle them better than our opponents.”
The Patriots’ David Andrews said Thursday, “I grew up in the South and when I think of NFL playoff football, that’s kind of the picture you think of — the snow, the cold. It’s always fun to get out there (and practice) in that.”
The Chargers have gone 9-1 — including a game in London — on the road this season and won at Baltimore in the wild card round. But now it’s the Patriots. It’s Brady. Rivers has never beaten Brady.
And, NESN’s Zack Cox tweets: “Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 29 degrees and a low of 18 in Foxborough. No snow, just cold. Philip Rivers is 1-3 in his career in games played in sub-30 degree temperatures. Tom Brady is 23-4.”
Asked if never beating Brady worries him, Rivers said, “No, I mean I don’t think so. It’s not something you think about a whole lot. It exists and it’s there but again, and I mean this, I don’t feel that I’m playing Tom. Certainly it’s a Tom Brady-led team and we know how things work with the quarterback and the head coach that have the record attached to it.
“We’ve got a heck of a challenge, our offense, going against that defense and how disciplined they play and how well they play especially this time of year. We’ve got our work cut out on that side of the ball. Yeah, I think you’re aware of that stat that is out there but it’s not something that I spend much time thinking about.
Rivers doesn’t know Bill Belichick very well, relating a Pro Bowl story, saying, “My one interaction with Coach Belichick was actually at halftime, the one that stands out. It was a great week. I’ll just tell you a funny story, but it was a great week just being around him. It’s a little bit, obviously it’s all scaled back in the Pro Bowl, but just really with his offensive staff and all his coaches just talking football and stuff, just being around a staff and a coach that had the success he’s had. It was cool for me to be around those guys and just talk ball.
“I do remember at halftime of the Pro Bowl game we were getting killed. I think it was me and Peyton (Manning) and I can’t remember who the other quarterback was – I’m trying to think of the other quarterback that year. I don’t know if it was (Matt) Cassel. It was Cassel. So, me, Peyton and Cassel and we’re getting blown out at halftime and he kind of called us all up and said, ‘Hey, we can tackle. I know it’s the Pro Bowl and all of that but can we tackle somebody today? Let’s just go out and make this a little bit respectable in the second half.’ And then he looked over at us quarterbacks and we had all thrown an interception. Thank goodness I wasn’t the only one and he said, ‘It would help if you guys would stop throwing it to the other team.’
“I got a kick out of that because I’m sitting there with Peyton Manning and Cassel and if Peyton’s not my all-time favorite, one of. I was glad I wasn’t the only one that had thrown it to the other team. I thought that was pretty good. I got fussed out at halftime of the Pro Bowl.”
J.C. Jackson has gone all the way from undrafted free agent to starting cornerback — and remains a very confident young man.
“I feel like nobody can catch a pass on me,” Jackson said Wednesday. “That’s my mindset — to lock whoever I’ve got to guard, whoever’s in front of me, to make sure he doesn’t catch the ball.”
Welcome to the playoffs, All-Pro Stephon Gilmore.
“It’s exciting. It’s the first playoff game. You’ve got to go out and play good football. They’ve got a good football team so we have to do whatever it takes to win.”
And Jason McCourty.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day. I can’t say I’m nervous at this point, today was a Wednesday and you’re just trying to get everything accomplished you typically do on a Wednesday,” he said. “I think obviously at this time of the year, you just realize, hey, if things don’t go the way we want on Sunday, we come here Monday and we pack our stuff. So you just try to do a little bit more this Wednesday than you did the prior Wednesdays of the season and just trying to get as much done as you can preparation-wise to put yourself in the best position come Sunday.”
Congrats to James White, presented with the annual Ron Hobson Good Guy Award given by the local media to a player who “fulfills his media obligations with class and professionalism. “
A four-game homestand. Four straight wins, by an average of 20.5 points per game. Things appear — again — to be back on track for the locals.
Some juicy nuggets from stat maven Dick Lipe after Wednesday night’s blowout of a good Indiana team:
“In Wednesday’s game, (Al) Horford became the first Celtics non-guard to ever have eight or more assists in 20 minutes or less.
“During the four-game home stand, Celtics trailed for a total of 4:15 and led by 11 or more for 112 of the 196 minutes.
“Celtics have had 30-plus assists in five straight games, the team’s longest streak doing so in six straight games from March 27-April 5, 1987. No other team has a streak longer than three games this season.
“It was the first time Boston has scored 135 in regulation since April 14, 2004 and was achieved against the No. 2 defensive team in the NBA.”
Wednesday night was Pride Night at TD Garden, Jaylen Brown saying, “Everybody has a choice, from my perspective and the NBA’s perspective, everybody has a choice. We just come out and try to make sure everyone feels included, everyone feels safe and fun, everybody feels loved and play basketball. That’s it.”
This and that
…The Red Sox have invited 10 non-roster players, including the very rich but stuck-by-the-rules Rusney Castillo, to spring training.
…From Abby Chin Wednesday night: “Brad Stevens did not like the iso shot from Marcus Morris. After the miss he looked at the bench and said, ‘That’s not what we do!”’
…The Yankees are ahead of the Red Sox in Caesar’s over/under win totals for the year. The Astros are in at 97½, the Yankees are at 96½ and the Sox 95½. The Craig Kimbrel factor?
…Patrice Bergeron, wearing his lucky Patriots hat the other day, said, “It’s the hat they won the Super Bowl with, so hopefully I’m trying to bring some good luck to them.”
…How good were the Celtics Wednesday? From Sean Deveney of The Sporting News after the third quarter: “In their last 17 games, the Pacers were allowing 102.7 points per 100 possessions, third in the NBA. Tonight, they’ve allowed 105 points in an estimated 82 possessions.”
…Charlie McAvoy has had tardiness problems, with Patrice Bergeron among those providing counsel. The kid can play, but the combination of this stuff and injuries could be holding him back. Quipped Brad Marchand: “The kid always seems to find himself in trouble being late for everything. I’d get him a clock, or a watch. He is late for everything. I’ve never seen anybody more late for planes, buses or meetings than that kid.”
…Finally, some interesting numbers on Kimbrel with Dave Dombrowski again saying the Red Sox aren’t ready to dive into deep water for him: Among active pitchers with a minimum of 500 innings, Kimbrel is first in ERA, ERA-plus and strikeouts per nine innings and second in WHIP.