Keys to victory: Patriots edition

This week the Chargers face a similar team in the fact that they are hot and cold, up and down. The Patriots however have managed to find a way to win in some close situations and have wrapped together a few extra wins more than the Bolts have. It also doesn’t change the fact that the Patriots are still under the leadership of the master mind that is Bill Bilichick. He may not have the pieces he once did but let’s not forget how well he does against rookie quarterbacks. This week I will keep it simple, as theoretically it should be. There is only one key to the game! However there are different aspects to that one key. Here are my keys to victory.

Force Cam to throw the ball:
Ya, ya, ya I know really hard to come up with that one right? Well it’s not as simple as it sounds as a few different things have to happen in order to keep the Patriots in position to have Cam throw the ball 20+ times. Firstly let’s address why I think it’s going to be the key to the game. Well Newton has only thrown for more than 200 yards in a game 3 times this year. Once was against the Jets (274) and once against the poor Houston defense (365). This is not a good look for the former MVP. So far on the season he has just 4 passing touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He does however have 9 rushing touchdowns which points to his lack of confidence in his arm while in the red zone. Although that could just be his preferred method. The point is that if you are able to stop the run against the likes of Cam who loves to implement the heavy “run pass option” schemes then you can easily see the Chargers being up early on. Last week Cam was held to a total of just 84 yards through the air, so this is a very plausible outcome. However Cam isn’t the only spoke in the wheel that helps generate success in the RPO style offense.
This leads me to the second thing that would need to happen in order to accomplish the goal of forcing Cam to throw the ball. Slow down Damien Harris. Harris is having himself a bit of a mild break out year. I say mild because of the fact that New England goes with the running back by committee approach. However since Rex Burkhead is now done for the year Harris will see an increase of carries. Harris is a very hard runner as most running backs from Alabama are. This is very evident in his recent performances along with his 5.1 yards a carry average on the season. The Chargers have had their struggles with power backs. This was evident in the Carolina and Jacksonville game’s. They even allowed a little too many yards on the ground against the Jets for my liking. If the Pats find themselves in a situation down in the second half and Harris is only averaging say 3 yards per carry, then it’s very possible that they then lean on Cam’s arm. In which case I like our chances if they can slow down the run.

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