The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers are set to face off at 4:25 in a week 13 battle for relevance. Despite concern that Cam Newton would not be able to suit up due to an abdomen injury he sustained in last week’s win over Arizona, Cam will be able to play in today’s game. The Patriots are coming off of a very sloppy win over the Arizona Cardinals, a game in which Cam threw for under 90 yards and two interceptions but did enough on the last drive to put the Pats in a position to kick a game winning field goal. Led by rookie QB Justin Herbert, the Chargers have been one of the unluckiest teams all season long, with 6 of their losses coming down to the last drive of the games. Both teams are coming into this game with injured defenses especially in the secondary positions.
While the Chargers are all but eliminated from playoff contention, there are still a number of scenarios in which the Patriots could earn the seventh AFC playoff spot.
According to the sports book Betonline.ag, the Patriots enter this matchup as 1.5 point favorites over the Chargers, the smallest spread of any game in week 13.
Justin Herbert will look to become just the sixth rookie quarterback of all time to beat Bill Belichick, the defensive scheming wizard. If any QB can do it, it’s this guy. Herbert has been on a tear since entering the league, already completing more passes than Cam even has attempts, and leading the Chargers offense like a seasoned veteran. Poor coaching decisions and game-planning have put the Chargers in the 3-8 hole that they are in, while Herbert has been a huge bright spot for the team. Add the dynamic Keenan Allen to the mix and the Patriots will be lucky if they are able to slow this high scoring offense down.
As usual the Patriots game plan will be to eat clock on offense, reducing the length of the game and preventing the Chargers from running up the score. The patriots simply do not have enough firepower to keep up with the Chargers offensively, making it imperative that they establish the running game over the course of this game.
The trend of this game will likely be established right away in the first quarter, at which point we will see who has the upper hand in a matchup of two very different game-plans. If the Chargers are able to get out to an early lead, I don’t see the Patriots passing game being able to keep them in this game, however if the Pats manage to slow Herbert down and shorten the length of the competition then this could be anyone’s game. The Pats have managed to win 5 games so far through this strategy and the poorly managed Chargers will likely struggle with it as well. Unlike most Chargers games this season, this one will be more low scoring playing to the Patriots favor.
Patriots 17, Chargers 14.