New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Chargers Pick
New England Patriots (5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8 SU, 5-6 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, December 6th, 4:25 PM
Where: SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Point Spread: NE -1 / LAC +1 (BetNow - Deposit $100, get $100 free! Deposit $500 get $500 free! Deposit $1000 get $1000 free! The ultimate bankroll booster!)
Over/Under Total: 47
The New England Patriots travel west to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in a late Sunday afternoon matchup at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots lead the all-time series 25-12-2, which includes wins against the Chargers in their last five matchups in a row. This will be the first time the teams will play in Los Angeles since their initial meeting back in 1960, in which the then Boston Patriots won 35-0.
New England continued their consistently inconsistent season last week with the last-second upset win at home against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. The victory kept the Patriots’ slim playoff hopes alive, and they will surely be tested over the next couple of weeks with three straight road games awaiting them, including two in Los Angeles in the span of just four days.
For the Patriots to continue their postseason push, they will undoubtedly need Cam Newton to play better than he did a week ago against the Cardinals, when he threw for just 84 yards passing to go along with two terrible interceptions and leading the offense to only 189 total yards. As bad as Newton has looked at times, he is also playing with the worst group of wide receivers in the NFL, and for him to be able to step up his game, he will need the targets around him to do so as well.
Only three Patriots players had a reception versus Arizona, and there is no way to know going into each week who might make a dent of a difference amongst their receiving targets. Wideouts Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, and N’Keal Harry are the three major options in the passing game, especially with the tight end position in New England essentially irrelevant with Ryan Izzo the only TE to record more than one reception so far this season. Byrd and Meyers are the best of the group, with Harry continuing to look like a bust of a first-round pick with frequent, costly mistakes, whether it be penalties, missed blocks, or drops. Byrd and Meyers can only be counted on for so much, though, as Byrd has gone over 90 yards just once in 32 career games that includes just four receiving touchdowns, while Meyers has been shut out of the endzone through the first 18 games of his career while posting over 75 yards in a game just once. The group will have their work cut out for them on Sunday, going against a Chargers pass defense that ranks in the top ten in yards allowed in the NFL despite playing in multiple shootouts during the season.
SONY ON THE SHELF
The Patriots’ backfield is now essentially Damien Harris and James White with Rex Burkhead gone for the season, and Sony Michel clearly phased out with only one snap played a week ago. Harris has averaged over five yards per carry on the season but hasn’t gone over 4 yards per in his last two games. The former Alabama back also has just three receptions on the season, so it’s clear that James White will continue to see a fair share of attention in the passing game coming out of the backfield. This is definitely good news for Patriots fans considering White is the most consistent and possibly talented player on the offense.
There are both clear positive and negative ways to look at the Chargers 3-8 record this season. In one way, they have been competitive in every game, and all eight losses were by just one possession. On the other hand, their only three wins were against teams that have a combined record of 3-28-1, which is a recurring trend for them as last season, only one of their five victories came against a team that had ended the year with a winning record. They have been hobbled by injuries to major pieces of the puzzle, including Austin Ekeler and now Melvin Ingram, and though the season is now a lost cause, there is definitely at least one big reason to be optimistic about the future for Chargers fans.
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Despite going 6th overall in the NFL Draft, Justin Herbert didn’t garner nearly the attention fellow quarterbacks Joe Burrow, and Tua Tagovailoa received at the time but will definitely be ending the 2020 with the most statistical success of the three of them. Granted, part of that is due to injuries to the other two, but Herbert has been better than even the most optimistic fan could have predicted and on the season thus far has thrown for 23 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions while averaging over 300 yards passing per game. Last week ended a streak of seven straight games with multiple touchdown passes thrown, and the rookie from Oregon will undoubtedly be looking to bounce back after recording his lowest QB rating of the season against the Bills.
KEEN FOR KEENAN
Herbert’s top option in the passing game is clearly Keenan Allen, who leads the NFL in targets and receptions while putting up 875 yards and seven touchdowns. Allen has gotten into the endzone in five straight games, and with Austin Ekeler back from injury and demanding attention out of the backfield, it could open even more space for Allen down the field in the passing game. Hunter Henry and Mike Williams are easily the 2a and 2b options for Herbert amongst the remaining receivers, with Henry having scored in two of the last three games while ranking 3rd in receptions amongst all tight ends with 48 thus far. Jalen Guyton is the only other wideout to post more than five receptions this season, though he is now more of an afterthought, having gone five straight without a touchdown or over 35 yards receiving.
BACK IN BLUE
The return of Austin Ekeler is a big boost to the Chargers’ backfield, not only because he is their most talented back, but also due to the injuries with Justin Jackson lost for the season and Kalen Ballage day to day due to ankle issues. Ekeler will get the highest percentage of snaps for the running backs, but Joshua Kelley can’t be forgotten either as he has caught all 21 of his targets out of the backfield and, like his counterpart, Ekeler, can be a reliable or even dangerous weapon through the air. Whoever gets the ball will have a challenge in front of them going against a Patriots line consisting of Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy that is coming off one of their best games of the season a week ago.
THE FINAL DECISION
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had noted success against rookie quarterbacks, posting a 19-5 record in his career in games against them. When looking further at that mark, though, he is just 7-5 in such games when playing on the road, which an area his team this year has struggled with as the Patriots are just 1-4 this season away from Foxboro with their only victory a 30-27 squeaker against the winless Jets. You never know which New England team you are going to get, whether it be the one that beat the Cardinals or Ravens, or the squad that looked near helpless sandwiched in between versus the Texans two weeks ago. With their road difficulties, stagnant offense, and overall inconsistencies, it will be difficult to trust the Patriots this week going across the country against a youthful and upstart Chargers, and in a tough call, I will be siding with the Herbert, Ekeler, and Allen to get the job done at home with a win and cover on Sunday against New England.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Chargers +1. Make the Chargers a +21 underdog by inserting them into a massive 20 point football teaser found at BetAnySports! They also offer -105 reduced odds betting on all sides and totals! Click here to start betting cheaper!
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