Something clicked at the beginning of the fourth quarter last Sunday on offense and defense for the Patriots. QB Tom Brady was more accurate, methodically moving the team downfield on two scoring drives. The defense made big stops and held the Ravens scoreless for almost the entire fourth quarter and overtime. They will need to take that momentum and use it as fuel for a road victory today in San Diego.
The Chargers have been a statistical anomaly. The league leaders in total offense and defense, the Chargers are just 2-4 thanks to special-teams breakdowns and failures to convert red-zone opportunities. QB Philip Rivers will likely be missing two WRs (Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee), and his top target, TE Antonio Gates, is not 100 percent.
Since giving up 30 points to the Bills, the Patriots' defense has played better, but it is still a bend-not-break style with such a young secondary, and that will be tested today by Rivers, who likes to sling it all over the field. The Patriots play well on the road and Bill Belichick seems to have his mojo back. This will be close, but I think the Patriots are well rounded and motivated enough to take this one from a frustrated Chargers team.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Chargers 27