FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have one game remaining before their bye week. Depending on how this Sunday plays out, they’ll either carry a four-game winning streak into their weekend off or have two weeks to dwell on their third home loss of the season.
Obviously, the Patriots are doing everything they can to ensure the former.
“We just have to keep fighting through it,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday as his team prepares for Week 8 date with the Los Angeles Chargers. “We’re obviously close to the midway point, and this is when we’ve really got to hit the accelerator because that’s what the good teams do.”
After dropping two games at Gillette Stadium to begin the season a disappointing 2-2, the Patriots have looked like a much-improved team in the last three contests. They allowed 14 points in a Thursday night road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, won a tight one over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium — where victories never come easy for New England — and imposed their will on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in by far their most complete effort yet.
The Patriots’ final opponent before their bye is a Chargers team that has been equally hot of late, winning three in a row after beginning the year 0-4.
“That bye week is just really a chance to reevaluate where you’re at,” Brady said. “And knowing that this the last game before that, you want to finish on a high note. You want to go in feeling really good about what you’ve done.”
Brady has to feel good about the way New England’s passing game has fared so far this season. The 40-year-old QB ranks first or second in the NFL in passing yards, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns and passer rating, all while throwing to a receiving corps that lost top target Julian Edelman to a torn ACL in the preseason.
“We’re putting in the work every day trying to get things right,” Brady said. “Those guys are working really hard. You couldn’t ask any more of them, what they’ve done and what they’re continuing to do on the practice field and in games. Everyone’s contributed. I think everyone’s made a lot of plays.”
Brandin Cooks has been the Patriots’ most productive receiver in Edelman’s absence, ranking third in the league with 537 receiving yards on 28 catches. He also ranks second in yards per catch with 19.2.
Running back James White leads New England’s balanced pass attack with 38 receptions, followed by Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola with 29 each and Chris Hogan and Cooks with 28 apiece.
“It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got a good group. Obviously, losing Jules is not ideal, but a lot of the guys have rallied around and stepped up and tried to do really a great job for us.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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