BOSTON (CBS) — With their bye week in sights, the Patriots are determined to head into their week off on a four-game win streak.
The Patriots host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, two teams that have won three straight at the moment. Both are coming off of their best games of the season, as the Patriots put together a complete effort in a 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday night while the Bolts shut out the Denver Broncos in a dominating defensive performance.
With a strong pass rush and Philip Rivers under center, the Pats won’t take the 3-4 Chargers lightly. Here is how the CBS Boston sports team sees Sunday’s game playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Fans may think this is a trap game, but the Patriots aren’t going to let it be. The Pats have the utmost respect for the Chargers, they just have to get used to calling them the “Los Angeles Chargers.”
I will say this: The Chargers started the season 0-4, but are coming in a hot team after winning three straight. Protecting Tom Brady will be key, as the Chargers are fourth in the league in sacks with 24.
All that said, the Patriots still win.
Patriots 31, Chargers 24
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
The object for the Pats in this one is simple. Get to the bye week with a 6-2 record and then try to fix what ails them during their week off.
The Dont’a Hightower news will cause long term issues for the Patriots defense, but it will have little affect against the Los Angeles Chargers. Hightower was probably not going to play on Sunday anyway.
The Pats will have to do their best to slow down the pass rush of the Chargers, as this will be the best rush they will see this season. With that said, the Chargers have trouble stopping the run so expect New England to run the ball and pick their spots to burn L.A. in the passing game.
The defense will have to deal with Philip Rivers. If there’s any good news here it’s that he’s a pocket thrower and it will make it easier for the Pats improving front seven to put pressure on him. Even though the Chargers are riding a three game winning streak, the Pats are the better team and they should head into the bye with the victory.
Patriots 31, Chargers 14
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
Judging by the way Bill Belichick is talking and looking these days, I get the feeling that his team has turned a corner on defense. Hightower being shelved for the season hurts, but I think they’ll figured it out.
I think the Pats will jump out to big lead and hold on against the never-say-die Phillip Rivers.
Patriots 35, Chargers 24
Adam Kaufman, WBZ NewsRadio1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
The Patriots haven’t exactly been rolling offensively – they haven’t put up a 30-spot since Week 4 – and Sunday they’ll host a previously 0-4 Chargers group that’s surged to three straight wins while, like the Pats, allowing 38 total points the last few weeks. We know Los Angeles has offensive weapons, from Philip Rivers to Melvin Gordon to Keenan Allen and beyond, but their defense boasts a front-seven featuring Melvin Ingram (8.5 sacks), Joey Bosa (7.5), and Chris McCain (5). That trio’s combined for all but two of the Chargers’ 23 sacks and, as we know, Tom Brady’s had a hard time staying vertical in 2017. Fortunately, the 40-year-old’s not at the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up stage” yet.
Like so many games, this one will come down to strength-versus-strength. The Pats have the better offense; the Chargers possess the stronger defense. Both teams are confident, but the game’s in Foxbor and L.A. will be forced to start the afternoon at a 10am internal clock. Not easy.
Losing Dont’a Hightower hurts and that impact will undoubtedly be felt here in Week 8, but Bill Belichick’s been planning on not having his linebacker and defensive leader since late in last week’s win over the Falcons. They’ll be ready. It’s a bend-but-don’t-break week or, perhaps, a break-but-just-score-more week. Shootout?
Patriots 27, Chargers 24
Mike “Sarge” Riley, WBZ NewsRadio1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
There have been many times this season where I’ve feared for Tom Brady’s life with some of the hits he has taken. The Patriots seem to have solved their own problems on the offensive line as of late, but this is going to be a huge test against Joey Bosa, with 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles this year, and his counterpart Melvin Ingram, who has tallied 8.5 sacks and a forced fumble so far this season.
I think Brady will certainly take some hits, but he’ll be able to put points on the board early against a mediocre Chargers secondary. And for the Patriots defense without Dont’a Hightower, we’ll see Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers ride the momentum from killing the Falcons chances on a big fourth down last week.
Philip Rivers? He’s 1-6 all time against the Patriots, and that one win was in 2008 when Matt Cassel was under center for New England. He may throw for 300 yards, as we have seen before, and we may even see the Chargers again in January if they win their division, but for now they’ll be flying home across country in a bad mood.
Patriots 27, Chargers 20
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5FM at 10am, and on WBZ-TV at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay. Both stations will have full postgame coverage with reaction and analysis after the game!