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Game Preview: Patriots at Chargers, Chargers on Defense

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Patriots Running the Ball

  • 12th in Yards/Game (123.2).
  • 10th in Yards/Carry (4.4).
  • 12th in Rush TDs (4).
  • 1st in Runs for 1st downs (30.2%).
  • 8th in Runs for 20+ Yards (5).
  • 1st in Fumbles (0).

Does this team blow anyone else's mind? Their current running back situation could be summed up by saying "BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead", and yet they're fielding one of the best and most efficient running attacks in all of football. I wanted to compliment their Offensive Coordinator on an excellent job, but found something odd.....the New England Patriots have neither an Offensive Coordinator or a Defensive Coordinator.

The closest I could find in their roster of coaches was "Offensive Assistant" Brian Ferentz, who undoubtedly has great genetics, and so I will praise him and Bill Belichick (who probably runs every part of the team down to the laundry and never sleeps a wink) for somehow having a great running attack that probably costs the team $150 a game to field.

Chargers Stopping the Run

  • 6th in Yards/Game allowed (91.5), up from 7th last week.
  • 6th in Yards/Carry allowed (3.7), up from 8th last week.
  • 9th in Rush TDs allowed (3), down from 6th last week.
  • 8th in Runs for 1st downs against (19.3%), up from 10th last week.
  • 5th in Runs for 20+ Yards allowed (2), up from 6th last week.
  • 27th in Fumbles recovered (1), down from 25th last week.

This running game may be the best test of the Chargers new-found run-stopping defensive line. If they can continue to be a top 5-10 run defense, that would certainly make it easier for Norv & Co. to right the ship.

On a side note, the only category here in which the Chargers look less-the-stellar is in recovered fumbles. This is somewhat of an anomaly because they've done a decent job of forcing fumbles over the season, just not recovering them.

Advantage: Chargers. 

 

Patriots Throwing the Ball

  • 14th in Yards/Game (231.0)
  • 12th in Yards/Attempt (7.2)
  • 5th in TDs (10)
  • 11th in Passes for 1st down (34.9%)
  • 11th in Passes for 20+ yards (17)
  • 5th in Sacks taken (8)
  • 8th in Interceptions thrown (4)

Usually a tough guy to get to, Tom Brady has been sacked 3 times in each other his last two games. That means that not all hope is lost on the Chargers getting pressure on him and maybe forcing him into making a mistake (he threw 2 interceptions last week against the Ravens).

The Patriots passing attack is not dangerous, but is hard to stop. There will not be a lot of big plays, especially with Randy Moss gone, but it is difficult to keep them from converting on 3rd down. This will be a great test for not only Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, but also Donald Strickland and Paul Oliver. having Steve Gregory for this game would've helped.

 

Chargers Defending the Pass

  • 1st  in Yards/Game allowed (163.7), up from 3rd last week.
  • 3rd in Yards/Attempt (6.1), down from 2nd last week.
  • 4th in TDs allowed (5), up from 5th last week.
  • 3rd in Passes for 1st downs allowed (29.4%), same as last week.
  • 3rd in Passes for 20+ yards allowed (11), same as last week.
  • 2nd in Sacks (21), up from 4th last week.
  • 7th in Interceptions (7), down from 5th last week.
I guess the only argument I could make against the Chargers pass-rush and ability to get interceptions is that thusfar they've yet to face an actual good team, with the Chiefs being the only real exception. It's just ridiculous to think that they have the same amount of sacks and interceptions as the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.

This game could go one of two ways for the Chargers pass defense. Either they frustrate Tom Brady all day and I have to start believing that they might be the best secondary and pass-rush in the league, or Tom Brady sits in the pocket all day and slices the defense apart Jason-Campbell-style. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt until I see what Ron Rivera has up his sleeve this week.

Advantage: Chargers.