Week 8 is here and the late afternoon slate kicks off with the Patriots (3-4) traveling to LA to play the Chargers (4-2). New England is coming off their best performance of the year in a 54-13 routing of the Jets. Meanwhile, the Chargers had a BYE week to get right after falling in convincing fashion to the Ravens in week 6, 34-6. Will New England finally build some momentum with another win, or is this a get right spot for a well-rested Chargers team?
The model has the Patriots at Chargers with a median score of 25.23 to 28.12, with the Chargers winning outright. Given this number, LA is predicted to be a 2.88 point favorite, making this closer to a field goal game. This projects a point total of 53.35 points, over four more points than the line Vegas has set at 49. To see more scores for Week 8, head to the CapWize NFL Dashboard. You can learn more about the CapWize Model here.
In case you missed it last weekend, the Patriots looked like the team of old and beat the pulp out of the lowly New York Jets. While no team should write home about beating the Jets, there were several good signs from the Patriots and many takeaways that should translate well into this weekend. The offense accounted for over 500 total yards, highlighted by Damien Harris running 14 times for 106 yards and two TDs. Continuing with backfield production, RB Brandon Bolden also led the team with 6 receptions on 7 targets and a receiving TD. Eleven total Patriots tallied a reception last weekend, with six of those getting at least 4 targets. After a slow start to the season, Hunter Henry has now recorded a TD in each of the last four games as well. It is safe to say the offense is starting to take shape.
Most importantly, the Patriots have seemed to figure out their offensive line issues from earlier this season. After shuffling around Ted Karras to LG and Mike Onwenu to RT, the protection has been better and as previously noted, New England is running the ball more efficiently. This spells bad news for the Chargers, who are dead last in the NFL in rush yards allowed. While it certainly isn’t a Brady-Gronk connection it is evident that OC Josh McDaniels wants to continue running his offense, as seen by Hunter Henry’s recent production. Another bad sign for the Chargers – they rank dead last in fantasy PPG allowed to TE’s as well. The strengths of this New England team can expose the weaknesses in the Chargers defense. The question remains – will they be able to execute, or will New England once again take two steps back after a big step forward last weekend?
On the other side of the ball we have a Los Angeles Chargers team coming in with a chip on their shoulders. After rallying off three consecutive wins against the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns, the Chargers took a beating in their week six trip to Baltimore. The Ravens racked up 187 rushing yards with each RB logging a rushing TD. As good as Herbert has looked since making his NFL Debut last year, this one was one to shrug off. The Ravens stumped the Chargers offense, who couldn’t get anything going for most of the game. The one TD they did score came on a Jared Cook TD from Herbert, only to have Kicker Tristan Vizcaino miss the XP – his FIFTH miss of the season. It will be interesting to see how Justin Herbert responds, especially with the extra week to prepare for New England. Bill Belichick has a history of tormenting young QBs, and it showed last year as well. New England beat the Chargers 45-0 in LA last season in December.
All the more reason to bounce back. The Charges offense is loaded with playmakers and that cannot be overlooked. Mike Williams has managed to stay healthy and is putting up monster numbers, finally delivering on the prospect he was supposed to be coming out of Clemson as the #7 overall pick in 2017. Austin Ekeler has taken over as the bell cow in this backfield and is among the top dual-threat RBs in the entire NFL. Keenan Allen and Jared Cook are two more big bodies New England will have to deal with. It really will come down to how Justin Herbert handles adversity. Will the Chargers continue to regress, or answer the call and put away the inconsistent Patriots?
Mac Jones – 297.72 yds, 27.13/37.75, 2.66 TDs, 0.55 INTs
Justin Herbert – 296.1 yds, 27.65/39.81, 2.71 TDs, 0.6 INTs
Damien Harris – 46.08 yards on 11.68 attempts, 0.3 TD, 5.77 rec yds on 1.16 rec
Austin Ekeler – 45.49 yards on 10.88 attempts, 0.31 TD, 39.26 rec yards on 4.47 rec
Mike Williams – 62.12 yds on 4.55 rec, 7.36 targets, 0.57 TD
Keenan Allen – 58.01 yds, 5.95 rec, 8.3 targets, 0.52 TD
Jared Cook – 38.06 yards on 3.27 rec, 5 targets, 0.34 TD
Jakobi Meyers – 56.11 yards, 5.29 rec, 7.35 targets, 0.5 TD
Nelson Agholor – 52.08 yards, 3.47 rec, 5.36 targets, 0.48 TD
Kenrick Bourne – 42.39 yards, 3.34 rec, 4.72 targets, 0.39 TD
Hunter Henry – 35.27 yards, 3.52 rec, 4.77 targets, 0.3 TD
Give me the Patriots and the points here. Even dating back to the Brady era, New England was never great to start off the season but always turned it around. This has taken a bit longer in 2021 with a rookie QB, but this is one trend I’ll be early on. The OL is straightening out and I think the Patriots will continue to run all over the Chargers, much like every other team has done this year. What really steers me toward NE +6 is the kicking woes LA has dealt with this season. While I’m tempted to sprinkle Patriots ML, they are 0-2 straight up as underdogs this year.
The model also suggests a bit of a shootout, with over 4 more points projected than the current total of 49. I also lean over 49 as the Patriots defense is banged up, and a Chargers team at home with rest will surely come out swinging. In terms of props, Nelson Agholor is projected to have a modest day and I would follow his receiving yards total close on game day, and also lean over there.