With one game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, the Patriots have stacked back-to-back weeks of strong football. New England has gone two straight weeks scoring 29 or more points, throwing for multiple passing touchdowns, while putting up at least 330 total yards. New England may have finally figured out the right starting offensive line. Kicking Michael Onwenu out to tackle and starting Ted Karras at guard has maximized the running game and pass protection.
The Patriots enter a crucial stretch against the AFC over the next few weeks. It starts this week versus one of the hottest teams in football. Sunday shall reveal whether or not last week’s win over the Jets was a turning point or just a win over the Jets.
Feed Damien Harris
The Patriots running game has found its rhythm over the past couple of weeks. Damien Harris has gone back-to-back weeks with 100-yard games and three straight weeks with a rushing touchdown. The Chargers are one of the league’s worst defensives against the run. For instance, LA is giving up the most rushing yards per game (162.5) and the most rushing first downs per game (9). Harris leads the NFL in 20+ yard runs and he will need continue to run as the bell cow for New England.
Mac Jones is 4th in the NFL in completion percentage (70.4%), 1st among all rookie Quarterbacks. While the Chargers have been one of the stingiest secondaries against the pass, they let the Quarterback make a profit. LA is only allowing 201 passing yards per 4th in the NFL. These numbers could be hard to trust however since the Chargers give up so much on the ground. LA ranks 25th, however, in opponent completion percentage per game (68%) right around Jones’ completion percentage. It may not be a week to air it out, but it certainly will be a week to take free yards.
Hold On To The Football
Two of the Patriots losses have come down to coughing up the football. New England can not afford to do the same against LA, especially with how much the team will look to run the football. The Chargers are 2nd in the NFL in opponent fumbles per game, nearly forcing two fumbles every week.
Force Herbert To Turn it Over
The Chargers average 14.3 points per game when Justin Herbert throws an interception. When he doesn’t…the team averages 35 points per game. LA likes to air it out with both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen having 400 yards receiving. Speeding Herbert up will keep this game in reach.
The Patriots and Chargers kickoff in LA on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST.
(Photo By Eric J. Alder)