Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Patriots rank 31st in the NFL in scoring and have scored less than 20 points in nine of their eleven games this season while scoring seven or fewer points on four occasions.
- Bailey Zappe will start at quarterback for the Patriots, who appear to have moved on from Mac Jones.
- The Chargers defense has been disappointing as a whole this season but has feasted on the weaker offensive teams they have played.
- The Los Angeles offense appears to match up well with a Patriots pass defense that has been struggling.
- Questions surround star running back Austin Ekeler’s health as he has been fully active recently but has not looked like his normal self.
How new england Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots season has gotten away from them quickly, as they have a 2-9 record and are coming off a rough loss to the struggling Giants. The Patriots have scored 13 total points in their last two games and benched Mac Jones mid-game in both instances. This week, they are apparently moving on from Jones altogether as they have announced Bailey Zappe as their starting quarterback for Sunday and have been giving athletic rookie Malik Cunningham the backup reps at practice. Those signs would seem to indicate Jones will be the third-string emergency quarterback on Sunday if he’s active at all.
For all intents and purposes, Zappe isn’t much different from Jones. A relatively low-ceiling option at the position, Zappe is essentially a solid game manager with low arm strength and will rely on the scheme and his running game to carry him. The Patriots will need a strong showing on the ground and to keep the game close if they want to give Zappe a chance to succeed. New England ranks 27th in the NFL in pass rate over expectation, and while they have played at an elevated tempo for much of this season, it would make sense if they slowed things down a bit now that Zappe is under center. Considering the extreme struggles of the Patriots offense, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them involve Cunningham in some gadget plays and/or high leverage situations. Their personnel provides very little in terms of explosive plays or even the threat of that, and the scheme hasn’t been able to do the trick either. For those reasons, involving Cunningham and doing something the Chargers won’t have any film or preparation for would seem to be an easy way to get some cheap yards.
In the passing game, the Patriots are hurting and are struggling to keep people on the field. Rookie Demario “Pop” Douglas has not practiced yet this week due to a concussion and is likely to miss this game. He has been their best wide receiver option since losing Kendrick Bourne to a torn ACL and will definitely be missed. While the Patriots will likely be extremely run-heavy against the Chargers 26th-ranked run defense, their passing game will almost certainly be focused on the short and intermediate areas of the field with the running backs and tight ends heavily involved. In any regard, we should expect a methodical and conservative approach as the Patriots look to muddy the game up and bring the Chargers down to their level.