A veteran head coach versus an upstart innovator. The New England Patriots head to sunny California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. In this prediction, let's dive into a Patriots spread vs. Chargers pick and determine the best bet for this AFC East showdown.
Week 8 NFL Pick: Patriots vs. Chargers Prediction
The Patriots are back to their old ways, relying on a young quarterback and a stout defense to lead the way. The Chargers once again have their franchise quarterback on a team that has seen the likes of Dan Fouts, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers.
The Chargers don’t have many flaws on their team. On offense, they have an electric quarterback in Justin Herbert, a multifaceted running back in Austin Ekeler, and multiple receiving threats including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jared Cook. They rank 13th in the pass and 11th in the run according to offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). When looking at offense EPA (Expected Points Added), Los Angeles ranks 7th on the ground and 15th through the air.
Defensively, the Chargers have one major flaw – their run defense. Whereas the Los Angeles secondary ranks 5th in DVOA (9th in EPA), their front seven is dead last against the run according to DVOA and EPA alike. In back-to-back weeks, both the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens exposed this weakness.
Two weeks ago, against the Browns, the Chargers allowed 230 yards on the ground, and in their last game against the Ravens, Los Angeles gave up 187 rushing yards. For the season, the Chargers are allowing 162.5 yards per game on the ground and will be facing a Patriots team that loves to feed Damien Harris the ball.
New England, Old England, New England
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick must be going through déjà vu. Over 20 years ago, he started a young quarterback named Tom Brady and relied on his defense to kickstart the beginning of a dynasty. Fast forward to 2021 and Belichick is relying on his tried-and-true strategy once again. With a fully capable running back in Harris leading the way, New England has found themselves in plenty of tight battles this season.
Although the New England defense isn’t as strong as previous seasons, they are doing enough to keep things close with a rookie quarterback at the helm. They rank 14th across the board in defense DVOA and are better at stopping the run than the pass according to EPA. They have had the easiest defensive schedule this season, so it remains to be seen how they perform against an elite offense like the Chargers, but they did stay toe to toe with Dallas Cowboys until the final touchdown.
Patriots vs. Chargers Prediction and Pick
This game has the typically “keep away” expectations written all over it. I expect Belichick to run the ball a ton against the worst run defense in the NFL and take all the underneath passing routes Los Angeles will gladly give him. The Chargers tend to play soft coverage on defense to prevent deep passes and will give up plenty of short 5–10-yard passes which plays directly into what Mac Jones has done this season.
With a fast-running clock due to the consistent running attack plus the expectation that New England should gain good chunks on the ground to move the chains, I’ll gladly take the points with the Patriots +3.5 at the FanDuel Sportsbook and watch a tight battle between these two AFC teams.