X-Factors For Chargers Matchup With The Patriots
It has been a long two weeks since the Chargers played their last game. It’s one thing to lose a game before a bye, but to lose in the fashion that they did of getting blown out 34-6, it stings just a little more. If you all remember correctly, by far the worst game of last season was losing to the New England Patriots 45-0.
That was obviously in the previous regime, hopefully things are different this time around. The Chargers haven’t been able to beat the Patriots since 2008. This is a team that has had problems for them for years and we’re going to break down what they can do to finally get over the Patriots.
X-Factor 1: Justin Jones
Brandon Staley mentioned on Friday that they are hopeful that Jones would be activated off IR to play this weekend, and that was confirmed by the team today (in a corresponding move they waived Forrest Merrill). To be quite frank, the defensive line has been very, very bad this entire season. It desperately needs a boost this week because the Patriots are coming off 148 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns last week.
Jones was constantly talked about all off-season as the player that had the most growth during the summer. Unfortunately, he got hurt the first game of the season and hasn’t played since. If the Chargers can’t at least slow down the run game they’re going to lose again. Joey Bosa will always do his thing but no one else is stepping up. Jones will be essential in getting this win over the Patriots
X-Factor 2: Pressure Mac Jones
Mac Jones is currently fighting to be the offensive rookie of the year and has definitely been the most consistent of each of the rookie quarterbacks. Every player especially at the beginning of their career has weaknesses. Something Jones has struggled with this year is turning the ball over under pressure. He has 6 turnover-worthy plays while being under pressure. That’s close to 1 per game so you can at least bet on getting one opportunity at taking the ball away.
Something we’ve come to see in the NFL is that winning the turnover battle is a bigger indication of who wins the game than any other stat. It sets you up with short fields, steals possessions from the other team, and can really change the momentum of the game. With Drue Tranquill back look for Staley to send him on plenty of blitzes and create pressure on Jones.
X-Factor 3: Score Early And Often
This is extremely obvious but there’s a lot to it. I wrote about something similar in my previous article. Everything that hinges on this win is stopping the Patriot’s run game. If the Chargers are able to score early and often it puts the Patriots in passing situations. Chargers are currently 5th in DVOA for pass defense. Defending the pass is absolutely what this defense is best at.
Chargers have scored first in 3 games this year, they are 3-0 in those games. Their opponent has scored first in the three games and, they are a combined 1-2 in both games with the only win being the 47-42 win over the Browns. The numbers match up with the eye test. This is a team that feeds off the energy and each other.
This is shaping up to be an extremely important game that a lot of people are already picking the Chargers to be upset. Go 5-2 and they’re looking at a couple of easy games coming up and they can start piling up the wins. Have to get the monkey off their back though and beat the Patriots. I didn’t feel good last year when they played, I’m feeling great this time around.
Final score prediction Chargers 27 Patriots 17