What to Look for…

Rebounding after a huge win or a big loss one of the biggest challenges for young teams to conquer.  Coach Belichick is notorious for keeping his team focused on the task ahead, but you can only control the players for so many hours in the day.  The San Diego Chargers are bruised and battered, but they have the best passing attack and passing defense in the NFL (statistically).  I think that Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers is going to be a better game than most expect.  Here are some things to look for while watching the game:

-Antonio Gates is questionable with a toe injury.  Malcolm Floyd isn’t expected to play with a hamstring injury.  Legedu Naanee is experiencing hamstring troubles as well and it listed as doubtful.  That leaves Buster Davis and Patrick Crayton as the Chargers’ two leading wideouts.  This game should be a layup, right?  The problem with a young team is that they can be influenced by things that are outside of their control.  Whether it is fan/media pressure, emotional highs and lows, or injuries to other teams’ players, young teams let these issues mess with their heads.  What to look for: If the Pats’ young defense plays down to the subpar receiving corps of the Chargers.

-As I mentioned in my review of last week’s game, the Patriots young defense seemed to mature in front of our eyes against the Ravens.  They finally showed the ability to step up when necessary and make plays to help win the game.  Here is the real challenge, seeing how the defense comes back and plays this week against one of the best offenses in the league.  Building on successful performances is what makes teams championship contenders.  If the Pats’ defense can build on what they did against the Ravens last week, this is not a team that I want to play in week 16, 17 and the playoffs.  What to look for: If the Patriots’ defense can build on their success from last week.

-Deion Branch and the Patriots passing offense, in my opinion, over performed last week against one of the NFL’s best defenses.  So it’s settled, the Patriots are a better offense without Randy Moss…not so fast.  I agree, they played very well last week.  Brady led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, leading to ten points and forcing the game into overtime.  Then, key plays in the passing game got them into a position for Gostkowski to kick the game winning field goal (so he still leads game winning drives Scottie).  But, the Patriots do not lose after bye weeks.  Coach Belichick and staff had two weeks to game plan ways to get the receivers open.  The real test will come within the next few weeks.  Teams will get tape on this offense without Moss and switch their game plan to adjust to the Pats’ new personnel.  What to look for: How the Pats’ passing attack continues to perform without the presence of Randy Moss.

-So much has been made of how much of a piece of garbage Brandon Meriweather is.  He was out to kill Todd Heap, clearly looking not to play football but just to injure players.  Read my post on “the vilification of Brandon Meriweather” and then relax a bit.  Anyways, Meriweather was subject to more media scrutiny this past week than he has been in his entire career.  He was forced into apologizing for playing the way he has been taught to play for his entire life.  He is being guilted into transforming his game, tackling players in a different way.  “I’m going to be aggressive…I’m not going to change my game.”  That’s what Meriweather says, and I’m interested to see how it translates onto the field.  What to look for: How Brandon Meriweather responds to the criticism of his play, and its translation onto the playing field.

I’ve changed my prediction since last week’s review, so here’s the updated prediction…

THIS WEEK’S PREDICTION: Chargers 35 – Patriots 31

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One Response

  1. flippity floppity

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