The Patriots have been in some tight games in recent weeks, and with the Los Angeles Chargers up next, that may work in their favor.
Los Angeles ended up on the wrong side of a 27-17 loss on Sunday after having pulled within 7 with just over 10-minutes remaining in the game against the Bills.
That final quarter was a mess for both clubs. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and Chargers QB Justin Herbert traded interceptions on back-to-back drives in what ended up being a sequence that cost Los Angeles an opportunity to knot the score.
But that’s been the problem with the Chargers in 2020. They’ve been finding ways to lose close games, and the pressure is starting to mount on head coach, Anthony Lynn, who is in his fourth season with the club. Lynn previously signed a one-year extension with the club back in February, which takes him into 2021.
Lynn has had some questionable moments this season, including some poor game management at the end of Sunday’s game where he squandered precious seconds down the stretch during Los Angeles’ loss to the Bills. Those issues appear to be a little more of a trend than one might have expected. As ProFootballTalk.com points out, the Chargers have had 20 games decided by one score since the start of the 2019 season and are 4-16 in those games.
According to PFT, that’s the most one-score defeats in the league during that span.
That fact works out in New England’s favor as the Patriots have finally started to figure out how to win games that had slipped away from them in previous weeks. They’ve won two of their last three, although they were on the wrong end of one last week in a 27-20 loss in Houston.
But the obvious difference between the two clubs is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has remained steadfast in his approach all year and has been the reason why things didn’t begin to spiral. Instead, they’ve kept fighting and despite their struggles on offense, the rest of the team has improved each week.
Sunday’s win over Arizona was a prime example. They got key contributions from their defense, including a key 4th down stop at their own one-yard line at the end of the half, which kept them in the game and gave them momentum heading into the second half. They also saw some terrific performances on special teams, with Gunner Olszewski and Donte Moncrief both coming up big in the return game, with each finishing with a return of 50+ yards on Sunday.
Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal was obviously huge, especially given all the questions they had at the kicker position back at the start of the season. Overall, he’s 19-of-21 on the season, including 7-of-8 from 40-49yds and 2-of-3 from 50+, one of which being his 50yd walk-off kick at the end of regulation Sunday that gave the club their 5th win of the season.
Those are things that Belichick has always focused on and everyone is well aware that he knows how to coach in big moments. Meanwhile, the Chargers’ issues clearly point to a little bit of a different trend, which explains their 3-8 record. While it would be nice if the Patriots could go out and come away with a convincing win, it’s clear if it’s close, it likely favors New England.
With just five games left, the Patriots have a chance to surprise some people during this final month of the season. Hopefully, they’ll start by getting back to .500 this weekend.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season