The New England Patriots first have to get past the Los Angeles Chargers, but then they’ll be rewarded with their bye week and some time off. Quarterback Tom Brady lamented the time between the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints because it force him to stew in the week 1 loss for a few extra days.
He’s going to try his hardest to enter the bye week and his 14 days of rest on a high note.
“Knowing that this is the last game before that you want to finish on a high note and you want to go in feeling really good about what you've done,” Brady said on Wednesday. “The problem is this team [Chargers] is – they're hot, they've won three straight, they've got a really good defense. There's nothing easy about it. It's a big challenge facing them but to get to 6-2 would be huge for this team and that's what we're going to try to do.”
The Patriots want to win at least 75% of their first eight games for the 16th time in franchise history and the 11th time under head coach Bill Belichick. Moving to 6-2 would allow New England to finally break .500 at home this season and to keep pace in the AFC.
Brady and company need to take advantage of their time at home, too, because they’re about to enter a brutal stretch of games after the bye week. They play at Denver against the Broncos in week 10 before flying to Mexico City to face the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots get a home game against the Miami Dolphins before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Buffalo Bills, Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Those five games represent one of the most difficult stretches for any team in the NFL this year, especially when you factor in the distance traveled and the quality and type of opponent. With one victory possibly the difference between homefield advantage and playing during wild card weekend, defeating the Chargers goes a long way in providing some breathing room for the Patriots.