Patriots play host to streaking Chargers on last weekend before bye

FILE - At left, in an Oct. 8, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, in East Rutherford, N.J. At right, in an Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chargers and Patriots enter Sunday’s matchup as two of the hottest teams in the NFL.(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) – The Los Angeles Charges will roll into Foxboro this afternoon looking to extend their winning streak to four games as the Patriots hope to make it to their bye week without further injuries.

Two of the league’s best quarterbacks of the last decade-plus, Brady and Phillip Rivers, will square off, though Rivers and the Chargers haven’t had the same offensive success as Brady and the Pats this year. The Chargers dropped their first four games before stringing together three straight wins against the Giants, Raiders and Broncos – none of which qualify as top-notch opponents.

After easily handling the Atlanta Falcons in last week’s Super Bowl rematch, the Patriots now have to content with a season-ending injury to linebacker Donta Hightower, one of the leaders on defense. He joins Julian Edelman on the list of those out for the season.

Stephan Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Malcom Brown are among the inactive players for the Patriots, who are hoping to escape with a win and without any other injuries. They’re on their bye week next weekend.

One worry – the Chargers defense, which has allowed only 131 points so far this year and is tied for fourth in sacks.

On media day earlier this week, Brady acknowledged the effectiveness of the Los Angeles pass rush.

“They really get after you,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to stand back there and hold it forever.”

Brady suffered a left shoulder injury after a hit two weeks ago.

The Patriots and Chargers play at 1 p.m. on WPRI 12.