Chargers Vs Patriots: Two Key Matchups To Watch For In Week 13 

The Chargers face the Patriots this week in a game where they can hopefully turn a corner.

Week 13 is on the horizon and the Los Angeles Chargers seem to be getting better in some areas and worse in others. At 4-7, their playoff hopes are far away, and in this next matchup, what should be seen as a game in which the Chargers have a high probability of winning, could end in tragedy. Here are two key matchups to look out for in Chargers vs Patriots:

Chargers vs Patriots Key Matchups:

NFL: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers vs Patriots: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

1. Mac Jones/Bailey Zappe vs the Chargers Pass Rush 

The biggest story of the Patriots this season besides their lack of wins is the revolving quarterback door between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Jones has not been playing well, with more interceptions (12) than he had all last season (11), and is on par to have more than he did his rookie year (15). His completion percentage is the lowest it’s ever been (64.9%) as are his passing yards (2,120).

Not everything that’s happening to the offense is Jones’ fault, but he’s a far cry from the player of 2021 who made it to the Wild Card game and was seen as the solution to Tom Brady leaving New England.

Zappe hasn’t done much better. He had a few good games last year but like Jones has had an issue with interceptions, having one during each of the last two games where he’s stepped in. 

Pass rush has been an area where the Chargers have been fairly consistent. Khalil Mack has already had 14 sacks and is on pace to exceed his 2015 career-high of 16 when he was with the Raiders. Defensive lineman Morgan Fox hasn’t played as many snaps this year but still managed to have four quarterback hurries against the Ravens on Sunday. And though this past game wasn’t edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu’s best game, he’s been a solid addition to this unit.

The pass blocking for New England has not been great, and both Jones and Zappe are not rushing quarterbacks, so it’ll be in the pocket where the pass rush can do the most damage. The Chargers can certainly make an impact if they really focus on getting to the quarterback, no matter if it’s Jones, Zappe, or someone from the practice squad, as Bill Belichick has not yet announced who’s starting. 

NFL: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers vs Patriots: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

2. Cornerback J.C Jackson vs His Former Team 

I wrote a reaction piece in the early part of the season when Jackson was traded back to the Patriots. Since then, drama has continued to follow him to New England. According to Mark Daniels of  MassLive, Jackson “missed multiple bed checks” at the Patriots team hotel on Saturday night before their matchup with the Commanders. That led to Jackson not starting the next day and ultimately, kept him home when the Patriots traveled to Germany.”

Jackson did start this past week against the Giants and had the most solo tackles so far of any game he’s played this season at six and two STOPs. Despite this, he allowed the most first downs of the team at five, helping Giants rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt have the best game so far of his NFL career with 109 receiving yards and five receptions. 

Considering the time that Jackson spent with the Chargers, it will be interesting to see him against their offense. Former Charger edge rusher Kyle Van Noy, who’s now with the Ravens, had his best overall defense grade (72) of the season on Sunday, while Mack has certainly performed well against some of his former teams like the Raiders and Chicago. Revenge can be a powerful motivator, and with this Chargers receiving core struggling, despite Jackson not performing well, he may still have the upper hand.