By Mike DeVito
It wasn’t very long ago that the Patriots week 8 match up with the Chargers looked about as appetizing as candy corn, but after Los Angeles (still sounds weird to say) won three in a row, this will be a tough match up for the Patriots.
Anthony Lynn was running backs coach in New York when I was with the Jets and I would imagine we’ll see a lot of similarities between how he attacked them on the ground then and will today. Melvin Gordon has been a key contributor for LA, 394 yards rushing, 3 touch downs, 29 receptions, 228 yards and 4 touch downs. However, Gordon has been limited at practice this week with a foot injury, it will be a game time decision on whether or not he plays but there aren’t many people who think that Gordon will sit this one out. The question becomes, how big of an impact will he be able to have with this foot injury?
3 Keys for the Chargers
- Hit Brady. I say this a lot, but it really is the only way to slow down the Patriots offense. In this case, the Chargers have as good, if not better chance, of getting at #12 than most teams with rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Belichick was effusive in his praise of both this past week, but seemed to take extreme joy in heaping adoration on Bosa. Not since the days of Ed Reed and Tony Gonzalez has Belichick been smitten with an opposing player like this.
- Start Fast, don’t let the Patriots offense get rolling. The Patriots can score points in bunches, but you can’t let them get a taste for the end zone early in the game, because if they do, it’s like a shark getting a taste for blood; they’ll only want more. The Patriots haven’t been as productive in the red area as we’ve been used to seeing them. Look at their point totals the last three weeks: 19, 24 and 23 points. Now those were all in wins, but look at the field goals. Stephen Gostowski has attempted in the last four games, 3, 4, 2 and 3 field goals. That’s saying that the Patriots red zone efficiency hasn’t been where it needs to be and by stalling out drives, they’re leaving points on the table.
- Run the ball and control the clock. The more you keep Brady on the sideline with a knit hat on, the better your chances of leaving Gillette with a victory. Could be harder to do with the injury to Gordon, but Philip Rivers is a veteran quarterback who can take care of the football.
Key Players for the Chargers
WR- Keenan Allen: With the Patriots coverage problems this year, Allen has to weigh heavily on the mind of Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. (So does the return of Stephon Gilmore.)
QB- Philip Rivers: Just a couple of weeks ago people were sending the quarterback class of 2004 out to pasture, (Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) but for the most part they’ve been able to turn it around. Rivers is smart and won’t give the game away, he’ll need his play makers to show up for this 1pm east coast start however.
TE- Hunter Henry: Rivers to Gates was one of the best QB-TE combos the league has ever seen and it seems in the early stages of Henry’s career that he has a similar chemistry with his quarterback.
Prediction: Patriots 33 Chargers 17
Mike DeVito is a Maine alum and veteran of 9 season in the NFL with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. Mike is a guest host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live on DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.