By Danny Cox
A game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots halfway through the season wasn’t one that was expected to have a lot riding on it. Now, both teams have won three in a row and are surging in an AFC that really doesn’t have a single team that wants to be the best in the conference. The same thing could be said for the entire NFL in a year where nothing is happening as it should, and everyone has a chance.
Los Angeles Chargers’ Season Record: 3-4
After starting off the season 0-4, many thought this would simply be the same old year for the Chargers, just in a different town. Now, they have won three in a row with two huge victories over AFC West rivals, which includes a 21-0 shutout of the Denver Broncos. While it took them a little while to get going, it appears as if new head coach Anthony Lynn has them on the right track just in time for a meet-up with the Patriots.
Chargers On Offense
Offensively, the Chargers have a lot of weapons and it is no secret that Philip Rivers is learning how to take advantage of all of them. Six different players have more than 115 receiving yards, which shows that Rivers knows how to spread the ball around. Seven different players have a receiving touchdown, with running back Melvin Gordon leading the pack with four. Keenan Allen leads the team in receptions (36) and yards (487), but he’s far from the only target.
Gordon also leads the team in rushing, with 394 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. After Gordon, no one on the Chargers roster has more than 74 yards rushing, which means this portion of their offense is very limited. New England needs to exploit that weakness and force them to run the ball more without forgetting where the dangerous receivers are.
Chargers On Defense
Early on, this Chargers defense didn’t seem to have anything going for them, but that has obviously changed. All one has to do is look at the game against the Broncos, where LA shut out Denver for the first time in 25 years. Things have vastly improved, and the bad news for Tom Brady is the pass rush is one of their greatest strengths.
Through seven games, the Chargers have racked up 23 sacks, with Joey Bosa having 7.5, Chris McCain with five, and Melvin Ingram leading the team with eight. Add five interceptions and four fumble recoveries to those numbers and the Chargers are bringing a very strong defense to New England.
Chargers Players To Watch: WR Travis Benjamin and DE Joey Bosa
Travis Benjamin is just one of many receivers who is contributing to the Chargers, but he does so much more for this team. He’s fast and strong for a player of his size, and that is exactly why he does so well in the return game. Benjamin’s electrifying 65-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Broncos set the tone for the day, and he is someone who needs to be spied on at every moment of the game.
Defensively, Joey Bosa is making a name for himself in the NFL in a huge hurry. During his rookie season, he had 10.5 total sacks in 12 games and this year, he already has 7.5 in just seven games. This young man is big and fast and very strong, and it doesn’t matter who is standing opposite him on the field. With the amount of pass rushers that the Chargers have at their disposal, this could be a very long day for Brady and the offensive line of the Patriots.
The Chargers really have a lot more weapons than anyone may realize, and coach Anthony Lynn has finally had them all land on the same page. It may seem as if they aren’t on the same level as much as some of the other teams in the NFL, but right now, everyone is on an even playing field. The Patriots can very well capture another victory and contend for the top spot in the AFC, but the Chargers won’t be an easy win.