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Game Preview: Chargers at Patriots

The New England Patriots host the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 3 at 1:00 PM.

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WEEK 13 · Sun 12/03 · 1:00 PM EST

Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers

AT

Patriots

New England Patriots

CBS / WBZ
98.5 FM The Sports Hub
GILLETTE STADIUM

The New England Patriots will return to Gillette Stadium this week and will try to break a four-game losing streak when they host the Los Angeles Chargers, who are in the midst of a three-game slide.

The Patriots enter this week's game with a seven-game winning streak against the Chargers, including a 2018 playoff game.

PATRIOTS IN THROWBACKS AT HOME

The Patriots will wear throwback uniforms this week for the second time this season. The Patriots wore their throwback uniforms for the first time against Miami on Sept. 17. The uniforms are based on the ones worn from 1984-1992 and then sporadically from 1994-2012 as an alternate uniform. The Patriots will wear red jerseys with white pants and a white helmet featuring the "Pat Patriot" logo with white facemasks. The Patriots are 7-2 when wearing throwback uniforms at home. New England has worn uniforms featuring the old "Pat Patriot" logo at home nine times since switching to the current logo in 1993.

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SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run - Edge: Patriots

The Patriots ground game is one of the few elements of the team that has actually improved over the course of the season. Rhamondre Stevenson has strung together several quality outings in a row, including Sunday's 98-yard effort in the loss to the Giants. Stevenson has his season average up to 3.9 yards per carry after a very slow start, and New England's ground attack has been solid. Ezekiel Elliott made the most of his nine carries as well, picking up 46 yards for an impressive 5.1-yard average. The Chargers have been average against the run, ranking 14th in the league allowing 110.6 yards per game and 19th with 4.3 yards per carry. Nick Williams mans the nose between Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson in front of linebackers Kenneth Murray and Tuli Tuipulotu. That group did well against the Ravens vaunted ground attack save for a late 37-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Zay Flowers that knocked the numbers out of whack. Otherwise, the Chargers held Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards below 4 yards per carry. The Patriots will look to continue their momentum on the ground, particularly with the struggles of the passing game causing problems.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Chargers

Los Angeles has been a train wreck all season defending the pass. The Chargers rank dead last, allowing 280 yards per game and 30th at 7.3 yards per pass play. The secondary is in disarray, which is part of the reason they jettisoned J.C. Jackson to the Patriots earlier in the season. Corners Asante Samuel, Michael Davis, Dean Marlowe and Ja'Sir Taylor join safeties Alohi Gilman, Derwin James and Deane Leonard and that group hasn't been able to contain many teams this season. Despite those terrible numbers, the Patriots passing game has been worse, especially as of late. Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe continue to turn the ball over at an alarming rate and Bill Belichick hasn't been able to confidently put either of them in charge of the offense for any consistent period of time. Jones has now been pulled from four of the Patriots 11 games, but Zappe has now thrown interceptions in relief in two of them. Making matters worse, Demario Douglas, the lone consistent option in the passing game, left the Giants loss with a possible concussion. There haven't been a lot of bright spots for the Patriots passing attack and now Belichick can't seem to decide on a quarterback option.

When the Chargers run - Edge: Patriots

Los Angeles has one of the most versatile backs in the game in Austin Ekeler, who once again is enjoying a fine season. Despite missing almost a month with a high ankle sprain suffered in the opener, Ekler leads the team with four rushing touchdowns and remains a problem in the passing game. While Ekeler is capable of making plays, the Patriots run defense has been on point all season. Coming off another solid effort against the Giants Saquon Barkley, the front seven ranks eighth in the league allowing just 94.1 yards per game on the ground and leads the league with a 3.4-yard average allowed per rush. Those are gaudy numbers for a group led by Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Christian Barmore and Deatrich Wise in front of steady linebackers Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai. Look for that stout play to continue against a Chargers offense that averages a pedestrian 103.9 yards per game (20th) on the ground and 4.1 yards per carry (22nd) despite the presence of Ekeler, who averages just 3.8 yards per carry. The Chargers also don't spend a ton of time trying to establish the ground game, which should make life for New England's front even easier.

When the Chargers pass - Edge: Chargers

Despite some impressive numbers for the Patriots defense in recent weeks, the secondary has not consistently been up to the task. Playing against backups in consecutive weeks, and in the Giants case a third-string undrafted rookie, opponents have found a number of open receivers. Tommy DeVito was not able to put enough strong plays together to put more points on the board, but fellow rookie Jalin Hyatt exploded for five catches for 109 yards after coming into the game with just 12 catches on the season. The Patriots secondary will need to be better working against Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen, who are as explosive a pair as there is in the league. Herbert is completing better than 66 percent of his throws with 20 touchdowns against just six interceptions, and Allen is far and away his favorite target. The veteran slot machine has 97 catches for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. The next closest receiver for the Chargers is Ekeler, who has 29 receptions. Losing Mike Williams to a torn ACL early in the season hurt, as has the loss of Josh Palmer and the slower than expected development of rookie Quentin Johnston. Johnston was also injured in the loss to the Ravens, so Herbert won't have many options to choose from. He should have tight ends Gerald Everett and Donald Parham available, but the passing game is heavily reliant on Allen, and that combination generally is productive nonetheless.

Special Teams - Edge: Chargers

Things continue to spiral out of control for the Patriots special teams. The latest transgression was rookie Chad Ryland's missed 35-yard field goal in the closing seconds that would have sent the game to overtime. It's the second straight game that Ryland missed field goals that basically amounted to extra points. The Patriots also committed another unnecessary roughness penalty on special teams, and punt returner Demario Douglas fumbled twice, although was fortunate not to lose either. Aside from a recent uptick from rookie punter Bryce Baringer, not much has gone well in the so-called third phase for New England. The Chargers have gotten great work from kicker Cameron Dicker, who's missed just one field goal in 18 attempts and is perfect on 30 PATs. Los Angeles also has Derius Davis, who averages 16.3 yards on punt returns including an 87-yard touchdown. He handles kickoffs as well but hasn't had many opportunities in that department. The Patriots haven't gotten much from their return game as Ty Montgomery continues to take at least one kick out of the end zone each game, only to be stopped short of the 25 and often times short of the 20. Overall, it's been a very disappointing season on special teams.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers will meet for the first time since Oct. 31, 2021, when the Patriots prevailed with a 27-24 win in Los Angeles. This week's game between the two original AFL teams will be the first meeting at Gillette Stadium since the Patriots beat the Chargers, 41-28, on Jan. 13, 2019, in a AFC Divisional Playoff game. The Patriots enter this week's game having won the last seven games overall against the Chargers.

New England leads the regular season by a 24-14-2 margin. The teams have met four times in the postseason with the Patriots holding a 3-1 edge.

The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers are an old AFL rivalry as part of the original eight teams from the American Football League. The Patriots and Chargers met in the 1963 AFL Championship Game played on Jan. 5, 1964, in San Diego with the Chargers taking a 51-10 decision.

The series dates back to 1960, the inaugural season for each team. Bill Belichick is 9-5 in his career against the Chargers in the regular season, including a 8-3 record as the Patriots head coach. He is 3-0 against the Chargers in the postseason, all with New England.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

Overall Record: 27-15-2

Home Record:14-8-1

  • Boston: 2-7-1
  • Foxborough: 12-1-0

Road Record: 13-7-1

  • Los Angeles: 3-0-0
  • San Diego: 10-7-1

Longest winning streak: 10 games (12/02/73-10/14/01)

Longest losing streak: 4 games (11/10/68– 11/15/70)

Bill Belichick vs. LA Chargers: 12-5 (1-2 with Cleveland)

QUICK HITS

  • The Patriots won 10 straight games against the Chargers from Dec. 2, 1973 through Oct. 14, 2001.
  • The first championship game in Patriots franchise history was played at San Diego against the Chargers on Jan. 5, 1964, the AFL Championship game. San Diego defeated the Boston Patriots, 51-10.
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TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2023 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND LOS ANGELES
Record 2-9 4-7
Divisional Standings 4th 4th
Total Yards Gained 3,228 3,822
Total Offense (Rank) 293.5 (25) 347.5 (11)
Rush Offense 99.6 (23) 103.9 (20)
Pass Offense 193.8 (23) 243.5 (10)
Points Per Game 13.5 (31) 24.5 (8T)
Total Yards Allowed 3,485 4,297
Total Defense (Rank) 316.8 (8) 390.6 (32)
Rush Defense 94.1 (7) 110.6 (14)
Pass Defense 222.7 (16) 280.0 (32)
Points Allowed/Game 22.5 (21) 23.5 (24T)
Possession Avg. 27:55 28:22
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost 25/146 25/196
Sacks Made/Yards 24/153 36/260
Total Touchdowns Scored 16 31
Penalties Against/Yards 65/478 57/548
Punts/Avg. 56/47.8 44/44.8
Turnover Differential -8 (30T) +3 (11)
Field Goals Made / Att. 12/18 17/18

CONNECTIONS

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • TE Stephen Anderson, 2018

FORMER CHARGERS

  • DL Lawrence Guy Sr., 2013-14
  • TE Hunter Henry, 2016-20
  • DB Adrian Phillips, 2014-19
  • TE Matt Sokol, 2019
  • CB J.C. Jackson, 2022-23

WHAT TO LOOK FOR...

PATRIOT TO WATCH: RHAMONDRE STEVENSON

Stevenson had a season-high 98 yards rushing last week against the Giants, adding nine receiving yards to finish the game with 107 scrimmage yards, totaling over 100 scrimmage yards for the third straight game. He became only the second Patriots player in the last 10 seasons to have three straight games of at least 100 yards from scrimmage. Sony Michel did it in a three-game streak in 2018. This week, he will look to become the first Patriots player with four straight games with at least 100 scrimmage yards since Wes Welker in the 2012 season. The Patriots record is seven straight games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage by Corey Dillon in 2004.

Stevenson had a 64-yard touchdown run in the second quarter vs. Washington on Nov. 5. Since 1970, Laurence Maroney (2007), Sedrick Shaw (1998), Robert Edwards (1998) and Craig James (1985) are the only Patriots players with multiple 50-yard runs in a season. Stevenson will look to join them with a 50-yard run this week against the Chargers.

RACE TO 1,000

Stevenson is leading the team with 580 yards rushing and needs 420 yards rushing over the next six games (average of 70 yards per game) to reach his second straight 1,000-yard season. Last season he recorded his first 1,000-yard rushing season with a career-high 1,040 rushing yards. He can become the third New England player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2023, joining Curtis Martin (1,487 in 1995, 1,152 in 1996 and 1,160 in 1997) and Jim Nance (1,458 in 1966 and 1,216 in 1967).

GAMES COACHED IN NFL HISTORY

Bill Belichick will coach in his 424th overall game (including the postseason) this week when the Patriots play the Los Angeles Chargers. Belichick will move past Don Shula (423) for the third-most games coached with one team, behind the 506 by George Halas and 454 by Tom Landry.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE

The Patriots enter this week's game with the 8th ranked defense. The team has finished in the top 10 in defense 10 times during Bill Belichick's reign as head coach of the Patriots.

BRENDEN SCHOOLER

DB Brenden Schooler is leading the NFL with 11 special teams tackles and is on pace to finish the year with 17 special teams tackles. The last Patriots player to lead the NFL in special teams tackles was DB Nate Ebner with 19 in 2016. If Schooler reaches 20 special teams tackles, it will be the sixth time in team history that a player has finished the year with at least 20 special teams tackles.

ROOKIE RECEIVING WATCH

Rookie WR Demario Douglas has 36 receptions for 410 yards. Douglas needs seven receptions to tie WR Deion Branch for the most receptions by a rookie receiver under Bill Belichick. Branch had 43 receptions for 489 yards as a rookie in 2002. Douglas needs 109 receiving yards to match the 519 receiving yards by WR Aaron Dobson for the most receiving yards by a rookie receiver under Belichick. Dobson had 37 receptions for 519 yards as a rookie in 2013.

PHARAOH BROWN'S YARDS PER RECEPTION

TE Pharaoh Brown has seven receptions for 170 yards for the year and is averaging 24.3 yards per reception. He has five receptions in 2023 of at least 20 yards. The highest average in a season for a Patriots player was Stanley Morgan with a 23.4-yard average in 1981 (44 receptions for 1,029 yards). The Patriots have had a player finish with an average of at least 20 yards per reception 11 times. The last Patriots player to accomplish the feat was Shawn Jefferson in 1998 when he had a 22.7-yard average on 34 receptions for 771 yards. Over the last 40 seasons, the most 20-yard reception in a season by a Patriots player is 28 by Stanley Morgan in 1986 and the most by a tight end is 22 by Rob Gronkowski in 2011 and 2015.

BRYCE BARINGER

Rookie P Bryce Baringer is tied for second with Jamie Gillian of the New York Giants with 25 punts inside the 20-yard line, behind the 27 by Ryan Stonehouse of the Tennessee Titans. Baringer is on pace to finish the year with 39 punts inside the 20-yard line. The Patriots record for most punts inside the 20-yard line in a season is 36 by Jake Bailey in 2019.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Spero Dedes will handle play-by-play duties with Adam Archuleta as the color analyst. Aditi Kinkhabwala will provide analysis from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Jason Ross and directed by Mark Grant.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Sports USA. Josh Appel will call the game with Rob Ninkovich providing analysis.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 33 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For information on how to stream the game please visit our Ways to Watch guide.

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