Sunday 8.05PM Preview: LA Chargers out to avenge New England

The New England Patriots are fresh off of a 54-13 domination of the New York Jets on Sunday. That affair was the first time that their rookie QB Mac Jones had thrown for 300 yards. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers were on a bye last week so still have the taste of defeat in their mouths, after being blown out by the Ravens in Week 6. This week the Bolts welcome the Pats to SoFi Stadium, hoping to fare a lot better than last year’s 45-0 outing.

Mac Jones is having a pretty good rookie season

The main highlight of this game is the battle between two young quarterbacks. Mac Jones has looked like the most efficient rookie QB of the 2021 class and week by week we’re seeing more from him. Jones isn’t the most mobile and doesn’t have the strongest of arms, it’s above average, but not Allen, Mahomes, or Herbert. He was the most NFL-ready guy coming out however and has the poise, accuracy, and leadership skills to be a top 15 quarterback.

Josh McDaniels has done a great job using those skills to target the middle of the field on intermediate routes, consistently. His numbers look great for a guy with 7 starts to his name. He’s 19th in yards per attempt (7.2), but 4th in completion percentage (70.8%) and 10th in yards (1779). The ex-Alabama QB hasn’t exactly got a good receiving core either.

Best QB in the AFC?

Justin Herbert was in Mac’s position last year. The 2020 offensive rookie of the year broke records last season. Herbert has single-handedly caused chaos in the Miami Dolphins organisation, after they passed on him in the draft last year. HIs rookie year was so good that he was among the league’s best right away. And that’s carried on to this year. He’s PFF’s 6th highest graded QB (with an 86.8 grade.) He would have 100% been the #1 overall pick had the Oregon offense been played to his strengths.

One thing that nobody had concerns over was his arm strength, it’s elite. The LAC number 10 has had a strong second season, throwing for 295.2 yards per game (6th in the league) 14 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. It’s up there with the other superstar quarterbacks in his conference. Herbert may even be better than Josh Allen, and he’s certainly above Patrick Mahomes at the moment. If he continues on this trajectory, Justin Herbert will be the best QB in the AFC.

State of the franchises

It feels weird that the New England Patriots aren’t really relevant at the moment. They’re not bad and being talked about every week, but aren’t playoff-bound either. They’re just an average team in the middle of a rebuild. That being said they cannot catch a break on defense. Every week the Pats seem to be down multiple starters on that side of the ball, and that looks set to continue this week judging by the injury report. Offensive line seems to be the best unit on the team. Ted Karras and Michael Onwenu have handled moves to guard and tackle swimmingly, protecting Jones and creating lanes for Damien Harris, who’s had a great year. Win this game and things start to look a lot better because three wins against the Jets and Texans isn’t special. Master Belichick and co managed to confuse Herbert in their game last season, let’s see how much he’s learned.

In LA things are looking very bright. They’ve got their superstar QB, stud young offensive tackle, dominant edge rusher, and great receiving core. Add on to that Derwin James, Austin Ekeler, and Chris Harris. It’s no wonder they’re 4-2 currently, the roster’s stacked. And the man in charge of that roster is certainly impressing many. Brandon Staley is the first defensive guy to come out of the Sean McVay coaching tree and man are the Rams missing him right now. He seems like a great leader of men too, that was evident after his response to the Jon Gruden situation.

Prediction

There was one point in his career where Bill Belichick won 11 games straight against rookie head coaches, that’s a big factor towards this prediction. Guys sweat it when coaching against one of the most successful HC’s of all time.

That being said, the Chargers are super talented and should be too much for this NE team. It’ll be close, within one score, but the Bolts will be sour after what happened last year and will pull it off.

Los Angeles 25, New England 24

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