Charg­ers (12-4) at Pa­tri­ots (11-5)

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NEWS - Henry McKenna

Sun­day, 1:05 p.m. ET, Gil­lette Sta­dium, Foxbor­ough, Mas­sachusetts


Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Pa­tri­ots by 41⁄2

Charg­ers’ keys to vic­tory: The Pa­tri­ots’ run de­fense tight­ened up in re­cent weeks, but Los An­ge­les should test them with RB Melvin Gor­don. Af­ter that, QB Philip Rivers should con­tinue on his bril­liant pass­ing sea­son, par­tic­u­larly if he has TE Hunter Henry for his sea­son de­but. The Charg­ers’ de­fense needs to dis­guise its cov­er­ages to fool QB Tom Brady for as long as pos­si­ble. Brady has looked more hu­man than ever while throw­ing 11 in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing the 2018 sea­son.

Pa­tri­ots’ keys to vic­tory: New Eng­land will need to figure out how to block DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin In­gram. The Pa­tri­ots have a ca­pa­ble pair of tack­les, but th­ese Charg­ers’ de­fen­sive line­men have chal­lenged the league’s best. A heavy dose of RB Sony Michel could make life eas­ier on Brady. A re­ceiver not named Ju­lian Edel­man will also need to step up. De­fen­sively, CB Stephon Gil­more must shut down WR Keenan Allen, even if the matchup be­tween rookie CB J.C. Jack­son and WR Mike Wil­liams proves to be an ad­van­tage for L.A.

Matchup to watch: Charg­ers S Der­win James vs. Pa­tri­ots QB Tom Brady: Rookie James’ abil­i­ties are years ahead of his ex­pe­ri­ence level. Of course, he’s nowhere near Brady, who has al­most 20 years in the NFL. Still, this will be an in­trigu­ing matchup of in­tel­lect and skill and could well de­ter­mine the out­come of the game.

Who wins? Los An­ge­les’ de­fense might prove too much for Brady, and Rivers’ offense will get enough pro­duc­tion against New Eng­land.

Charg­ers, 24-17

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