The 2004 NFL Draft Class was one of the greatest collections of quarterbacks ever offered. The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and the Giants Eli Manning have each won two Super Bowls and have cemented their place in the Hall of Fame.
The Chargers Philip Rivers has not had such good fortune as he has only made one appearance in an AFC Championship Game and has yet to play in a Super Bowl. While he has routinely gone to Pro Bowls and put up impressive statistics over the years, the lack of success in the postseason has weighed heavily against his legacy.
Some of greatest athletes in history have had an arch nemesis who they had to overcome to finally win a championship after years of being on the threshold. Michael Jordan had the Detroit Pistons. Steve Young had the Dallas Cowboys. Rivers has Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
He is 0-7 in his career against Brady and his lone win against the Patriots in 2008 was when Brady was lost for the season with a torn ACL. In his two playoff battles against Brady, Rivers completed less than half of his passes and has yet to throw a touchdown pass.
However, their last playoff meeting was 11 years ago and Rivers has matured as a quarterback and as a leader. He has led the team through the trying times of uncertainty as they moved from their long-time home in San Diego to Los Angeles. He has led the franchise through new beginnings and has helped revive an obsolete fan base.
The team has arguably more talent around him than ever before. With defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram terrorizing quarterbacks every week Rivers does not have as much pressure to score a ton of points.
He also has running back Melvin Gordon who has proven to be explosive on the ground taking pressure off of the passing game. Ageless wonder Antonio Gates leads a talented group of pass catchers, which includes Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, giving Rivers options to choose from in the passing game.
In the past, Rivers has tried to beat the Patriots on his own and failed. With a talented roster behind him, this may be his best chance to defeat his nemesis and have a chance to win the Super Bowl.