We’ve got a little over 24 hours until the Bolts are on the field inside SoFi Stadium to take on a New England Patriots team that, despite not having that Tom Brady guy anymore, is still pretty intimidating. Of course, this defense never had Brady and Bill Belichick is still coaching it, so there’s plenty of reason to be cautious.
At the same time, this is a rookie quarterback who hasn’t even thrown double-digit touchdowns as of Week 8. He’s also thrown six interceptions which is tied for the third-most in the league. If the Chargers can somehow figure out this porous run defense, they’re going to be a tough outing every Sunday, no matter what the opponent wants to do.
As always, Matthew, Garrett, and I took turns predicting how this game would shake out along with our final score predictions.
Let’s get into it!
Michael Peterson: The Bolts are back and need to capitalize with a win over a pesky Patriots team to really send them into the softer part of their schedule. Currently, the Chargers are currently a 4.5-point favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, down from 5.5 to begin the week. This tells me the folks in Vegas are beginning to fear that maybe this run defense will once again be the achilles heel of an otherwise solid defense. However, I got a fun stat for you all: In 2021, the Patriots have only beaten teams that have started a rookie quarterback (3-0). They have also lost every game in which they played against a non-rookie passer (0-4). In those games against non-rookies, they’re allowing just under 25 points per game and have managed just three takeaways. If recent history tells us anything, it’s that Mac Jones may not have what it takes to best a veteran quarterback just yet. (Justin Herbert might as well be a veteran, you all know this.)
I think the Patriots will keep things stressful in the first half but the Chargers will end up pulling putting them away 27-20 at home.
Matthew Stanley: This is another game where I should be more confident than I am. Despite what happened against Baltimore, this is a very good Chargers team and definitely not the same team that got walloped 45-0 last year. The Patriots are always going to be a cause for concern because of their coaching and depth, and this year is no different. They have an active front seven on defense and good safety play on the back end to go along with an offense that’s being led by rookie Mac Jones. Thus far, Jones is also performing the best out of the top-five quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft. I think the Chargers can, and should, win this game 23-17 with Dustin Hopkins making both extra points and all 3 FG attempts and giving us all wildly overblown confidence in the kicking game overnight.
Garrett Sisti: This game will be a lot closer than some people think. Mac Jones and the Patriots just steamrolled the Jets and Damian Harris already has five rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry which is gonna be a tough challenge on Sunday. Justin Jones’ availability is still up in the air and you can assume the Chargers run defense didn’t get fixed during the bye week. I think Harris is going to get a TD on the ground and rush for 90 yards. I do believe the Chargers offense will carry them this Sunday and hold the Pats off late. With an extra week of rest and preparation, and the Chargers adding two new players to help out in two of their weakest spots, kicker and returner, this team will have the energy to put the Patriots away 24-20.