Jerry Maguire: Hello. I’m looking for my wife. Alright. If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I’m not letting you get rid of me. How about that? This used to be my specialty. I was good in a living room. Send me in there, I’ll do it alone. And now I just... I don’t know...but our little company had a good night tonight. A really big night. But it wasn’t complete, it wasn’t nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn’t share it with you. I couldn’t hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors, I love you. You complete me. And I just...
Dorothy Boyd: Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello.
Our ‘little company’ sure did have a good night Sunday. A really big night. A 45-0 shellacking that won’t let the NFL get rid of them or their playoff chances just yet. It was also the most complete game they played all season. The offense wasn’t a juggernaut but did its part, mixing mostly runs with pass attempts and winning time of possession. Cam Newton scored three touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 TD pass to N’Keal Harry) adding another game with zero turnovers. Jarrett Stidham mopped up with a passing TD to Gunner Olszewski.
The defense pitched a fantastic shutout, caught two interceptions and harassed rookie QB Justin Herbert with plenty of pressure and three sacks. But the special teams play stole the show. Who appreciates special teams play more than Patriots fans? Our household had a blast watching this game. It felt like a long time coming, but well worth the wait to see each unit contribute to the win.
Wish we had a full week to enjoy it, but it’s a quick turnaround to Week 14. New England faces the Rams Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Rams are tough competitors and favored by -6, but these Pats are hot and I’m picking them to win. I always do. They had me at hello.
Around the AFC East:
13th - Nick Goss (NBC Sports Boston): The Patriots gave their best performance of the season with a 45-0 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles. Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski was the star of the game with 145 punt return yards and a touchdown, in addition to a 38-yard receiving touchdown. Unfortunately for the Patriots, nearly all the teams they needed to lose Sunday ended up winning, including the Dolphins, Colts and Raiders. As a result, New England will trail a wild card spot by two games entering Week 14. [LW: 16]
14th - Danny Kelly (The Ringer): The Muddled Middle. [LW: 18]
15th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): They should have saved some of those 45 points for later. [LW: 16]
16th - Sean T. McGuire (NESN): The Patriots played an inferior opponent Sunday, but there’s no debating that their 45-0 shutout against the Los Angeles Chargers was their most complete win this season. [LW: 18]
16th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots are a hard team to read. Their defense is suddenly starting to play better overall for Bill Belichick, and if they can run the ball with Cam Newton and their backs, they can win against anyone at this critical point. They still are likely out of time to make the playoffs, however. [LW: 18]
16th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Person with most at stake: QB Cam Newton. Playing on a modest, one-year contract in a campaign he said was more about respect than money, Newton has a chance to shape his football future with a strong finish. The Patriots’ passing game is one of the NFL’s least productive, but Newton (11 rushing TDs) remains a threat with his legs, and the team’s future QB plans (and whether Newton is part of them) have been a hot-button topic. [LW: 17]
16th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): A defense that was giving up yards in bunches earlier this season shut out the Chargers on Sunday. Justin Herbert had 209 yards on 53 attempts, which is almost impossible when you’re throwing to Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry. The Patriots have made a massive leap on defense the past couple weeks. Two words: Bill Belichick. [LW: 17]
16th - Randy Gurzi (NFLSpinZone): For some reason, it always seems Cam Newton’s teams do better the less he throws the ball. It’s an odd thing since he’s not a bad passer, but he’s just at his best when he can pick his spots and his team can run the ball. That was the case this weekend as the New England Patriots threw is just 22 times, with three of those coming from Jarrett Stidham, who had some snaps due to the Pats winning big. Newton finished 12-of-19 for 69 yards and a touchdown while adding 48 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Overall, the Pats had 165 yards on 43 rushes as they won by a score of 45-0. Not only was their offense dominant on the ground, but they were also stingy on defense. They held the Chargers to 70 yards on the ground and forced Justin Herbert into two picks as he had no touchdowns and just 209 yards on 53 attempts. It was a second win in a row for the Patriots who are now 6-6 — a far cry from the 2-4 team we saw a few weeks back. With only four games left, there’s still a lot of work to do but New England isn’t out of the playoff picture by any means. They just need a few breaks and could really cover some ground with three games against AFC East opponents to close out the year after their game against the Rams next week.
17th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): When the New England Patriots lost by three points at Buffalo in Week 8, they were 2-5 and headed nowhere fast. But after destroying the Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 13, the Patriots have peeled off four wins in five games to get back to .500 and keep their postseason hopes alive.
The victory was easily New England’s most dominant of the season. The Patriots piled up two special teams touchdowns—one on a punt return, and the other on a return of a blocked field goal just before the half. The Patriots also locked down Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, holding the rookie to only 209 passing yards and picking him off twice.
Making a 12th straight trip to the playoffs will still be quite the uphill climb. The Pats are two games off the pace for a postseason berth, and starting with this week’s road tilt with the Rams, three of their last four games come against teams with winning records. But with a month left in the regular season, the Patriots at least have a pulse. That’s something few would have predicted after that Nov. 1 game in Western New York. [LW: 17]
17th - Peter Botte (NY Post). [LW: 17]
18th - Mark Schofield (TouchdownWire): New England Patriots fans have been waiting for a complete football game from their favorite team. Sunday afternoon probably gave them the closest thing that they have seen all season.
The Patriots came out and put their stamp on a trip to Los Angeles to play the Chargers early, ripping off a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a short touchdown plunge from quarterback Cam Newton. ...The Patriots also got two huge special teams plays in the first half. Gunner Olszewski – who had a punt return touchdown called back last week in New England’s win over the Arizona Cardinals – did not see any yellow flags on the field after his 70-yard return for six. The win got the Patriots back to 6-6 on the season, and they’ll face a quick turnaround as they’ll take on the Rams on Thursday night. Can they get back into the playoff picture? Once they leave Los Angeles they’ll take on three division rivals to close out the year. Perhaps Bill Belichick can put something together down the stretch to get New England back into the dance. Whether their passing game is good enough might be the biggest question facing them right now. [LW: 20]
AVG. RANK: 15.8 [last week: 17.0]