In week eight, the Los Angeles Chargers take their show on the road to face the New England Patriots. The Patriots have won four of their last five regular-season meetings and lead the series 23-15-2. The Chargers are coming into Foxborough on a three-game win streak and on the heels of a particularly impressive shutout of the Denver Broncos in Los Angeles. The Patriots are riding a similar three-game winning streak after easily downing the Atlanta Falcons amidst the fog and Super Bowl LI rematch hype. Here are three New England Patriots keys to victory if they hope to come out victorious against Melvin Ingram and the Bolts.
Week Eight New England Patriots Keys to Victory
Disrupt the Rivers’ Flow
Philip Rivers has thrown 160+ interceptions in his career. He’s tossed five this season, including three against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots secondary has shown improvement after getting off to the worst defensive start in the league. Last week, against the Atlanta Falcons, Malcolm Butler showed off the kind of talent that has made him a folk hero in New England.
In the absence of Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe, Johnson Bademosi has made his case for a starting job. In two games as a starter, Bademosi has only been thrown at seven times. Interpret that as you will. Gilmore and Rowe were both listed on Wednesday’s injury report. Gilmore, who has been out with a concussion, practiced in a limited capacity. Regardless of whether Gilmore and Rowe return, the Patriots defensive backs have the talent to remind the country that Rivers ranks in the top 50 all-time for career interceptions thrown.
Prepare for Bosa and Ingram
Two of the top ten sack leaders in the NFL in 2017 play for the Chargers. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have a combined 16 sacks. New England’s offensive line has struggled to protect Tom Brady this season, and they will definitely have their hands full this week. Bosa is coming off a Defensive Rookie of the Year season, and Matt Patricia better believe that Bosa would love to add a sack against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time to his achievements.
Brady will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly to avoid taking the kind of punishment Ingram and Bosa can dole out. This may be tricky, given the injuries to New England’s pass-catching group, but a healthy offensive line should buy Brady enough time to avoid the aggressive pass rush.
Keep the Laundry off the Field
The Patriots have been flagged 59 times in seven games, four of which have been declined and two offset. 24 teams in the NFL have fewer accepted penalties against than the Patriots. During the first four games, the fault lay with the defense and the special teams unit. But last week’s game against the Falcons collected seven penalties for -65 yards entirely on offense. Penalties have been huge this season on both sides of the ball. Between the Melvin Gordon-Rivers offense and the Ingram-Bosa defense, New England will have to be careful not to give up any free yardage this week on either side of the ball.
New England is favored by seven in this matchup, thanks to improved play by the defense and a classic high-flying offense. A second straight win at home in Foxborough will bolster the confidence of the Patriots, who will play five of their six games after the bye week on the road.