Just when it felt like the 2017 Patriots had turned a corner and gotten their season on track, they lost their defensive leader Dont’a Hightower for the season to a torn pec. Hightower was one of the walking wounded headed into the season and any hopes that he could somehow grind it out, through knee, shoulder and this pec injury were impossible.
As we should all realize by now the Patriots aren’t doomed by this injury. It’s a huge blow, but they’re as well coached a football team as there’s ever been in history and they’ll find a way to still play some pretty good defense. It will be harder on them all, and the team’s odds of winning another Super Bowl went down again, just like they did when Julian Edelman was lost, but they’ll keep fighting down to the last snap.
So now here come the
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers (of Orange County?), a team the Patriots have mostly had their way with over the years. In my time in Los Angeles I saw plenty of the games — the 2006 AFCDG, the 2010 and 2014 wins, not to mention all the times here in Foxboro that the Pats handled Phillip Rivers et al, like 2007, the 2007 AFCCG, and 2011.
This is a good and underrated Chargers team, that is far better than their 3-4 record might indicate. They’ve won three in a row and three of their losses were by seven points combined. They’ve got all the necessary elements to beat the Patriots, good pass rushers, a diverse running back and a quarterback who won’t be intimidated despite only beating the Matt Cassel Pats in 2008 (I was at that one too).
This won’t be an easy game, and you wonder how the defense will respond without Hightower. What the Pats need to do to get the job done, and move to 6-2 as they head into the bye week is here in the gameplan.