The New England Patriots are back at home again for the first time in four weeks. But they're still stuck at only two wins, in the midst of a four-game losing streak entering Sunday's matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Week 13 really might be the Patriots' final halfway decent shot at getting a win this season. Let's hand out some Patriots bold predictions and see if that'll end up being the case.
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Rhamondre Stevenson will rush for over 100 yards
Let's start off with a positive one for the Patriots. If you've noticed, the running back has slowly played a bit better as of late. Stevenson has rushed for 80-plus yards over the last three games, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
I think we'll see him continue to be efficient on the ground while also putting up big volume stats, too. The Chargers' defense has actually done a fairly decent job at slowing down opposing running backs this season, going on a five-game stretch where they allowed fewer than four yards per carry to opposing running backs.
Rhamondre Stevenson ties it up!
— NFL (@NFL) November 26, 2023
But the Chargers' run defense has been a bit rough recently. They let David Montgomery rush for 116 yards on just 12 carries a few weeks ago as part of a 193-yard ground game performance by the Detroit Lions. Last week, the Baltimore Ravens' running backs were able to rush for 121 yards on 5.5 yards per carry with Keaton Mitchell of all people leading the way.
Stevenson didn't get much run in the 2021 matchup, but Damien Harris rushed for 80 yards that day. It wouldn't be a shock if Stevenson ran for a decent amount more than that.
Bailey Zappe will throw three interceptions
Time to get to the ugly side of it.
Let's be real, Zappe is probably a worse quarterback than Mac Jones. He looked overwhelmed in the preseason under Bill O'Brien's system and hasn't been any better than Jones in his relief stints so far this season. He's completed just 19-of-39 passes for 158 yards and two interceptions. Yikes!
The only positive to starting Zappe over Jones on Sunday is that his mindset hasn't been completely ruined and put down in the dumps from this godawful, downright atrocious offensive situation. Jones was pretty clearly mentally broken over the last two games. Maybe Zappe will stand in the pocket with some confidence.
— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2023
And that confidence will only lead to bad plays. There aren't any good receiving options for the Patriots for Sunday's game with Demario Douglas out and Kendrick Bourne done for the season. Most importantly, Zappe's arm really isn't anything special, either.
It's really all a recipe for disaster.
The Patriots' defense will force three interceptions from Justin Herbert
Luckily for the Patriots, they're going up against a quarterback whose number they've had over his young career.
Herbert has been equally atrocious against New England as Zappe has been this season. He completed 26-of-53 passes for only 209 yards in the 2020 matchup between the two teams, throwing two interceptions as the Chargers were shutout 45-0. A year later, Herbert played a little better but still only completed roughly half his passes and threw two interceptions again in another loss.
ADRIAN PHILLIPS PICK SIX!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/fWCSzyhgKF
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) October 31, 2021
The Patriots' defense has also played some good football lately, though it's mostly come against bad quarterbacks. But with the Chargers' offense struggling as of late, I wouldn't be shocked if New England's defense had another strong performance on Sunday.
New England ultimately loses a close one
New England will cover the spread, but Los Angeles will finally pull through in a clutch moment this season. That's really been the nature of the Patriots' season so far, right?
Sure, they might have a different quarterback under center. But they still lack any juice offensively and the guy they're putting in is still not good. I expect we get a low-scoring affair, where Herbert leads the Chargers to a touchdown drive in the final minutes after a Zappe fumble that gives them a 17-12 win and continues the Patriots' horrendous year.