The New England Patriots will turn to Bailey Zappe this Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium.

Mac Jones has struggled this season as New England’s starting quarterback, prompting Bill Belichick to bench him on several occasions, leading the Patriots to try something different in Week 13.

Is it too little too late? Probably. The Patriots own a 2-9 record and already can be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this weekend. But perhaps Zappe starting will breathe new life into New England’s anemic offense down the stretch.

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Then again, ESPN’s Chargers beat writer Kris Rhim believes this presents an opportunity for Los Angeles’ defense. Because while Jones has been awful this year, Zappe hasn’t been much better.

Here’s the “bold prediction” Rhim offered in a piece published Friday on

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The Chargers defense will force a season-high four turnovers. One of the few things this struggling Chargers defense has done well is beating up on inexperienced quarterbacks. Khalil Mack sacked Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell six times in Week 4. They forced five turnovers combined in wins over the Zach Wilson-led Jets and Tyson Bagent-led Bears. With Zappe taking first-team reps at practice this week for the Patriots, the Chargers’ defense could be in for another big performance.

The Chargers’ defense hasn’t exactly been stout. It ranks 28th in DVOA, ahead of only the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos. But the Bolts have enough playmakers on that side of the ball that Zappe will need to tread lightly in his first start of the season.

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Otherwise, whatever remains of “Zappe Fever” in Foxboro will dissipate as the Patriots suffer another loss.

Featured image via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images