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Ten Final Thoughts on Patriots-Chargers

09.18.11 at 9:12 am ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on the Patriots and Chargers:

1. It didn’t make the cut for our Top 10 matchups, but it’ll be interesting to see how Sebastian Vollmer does in his first game back, and how the Patriots rotate their tackles. Just a guess, but it appears that Nate Solder and Vollmer have the most versatility, while Light sticks for most of the contest at left tackle.

2. You can measure the recent history of the Patriots using games against the Chargers as a guidepost: the legend of Tom Brady really took hold on Oct. 14, 2001, when he led his first comeback as a pro against San Diego. The 2002 Patriots were exposed in a nasty loss to the Chargers in San Diego. You knew the 2005 Patriots were in serious trouble after getting spanked 41-17 hat October by the Chargers at Gillette Stadium, breaking a 21-game home win streak. Brady led New England to perhaps its most underrated playoff win in recent memory when the Patriots upended the Chargers in the 2006 divisional playoffs. And in 2007, a thunderous win the week after the Spygate scandal broke highlighted the regular season, while New England’s win over San Diego in January 2008 remains New England’s last postseason victory.

3. BenJarvus Green Ellis has some awful career numbers against the Chargers — in two games against San Diego, he has 24 yards on 11 carries, with one touchdown. Among teams he’s faced more than once, it represents the lowest output of his career.

4. My favorite stat of the week from my buddy Gary from Nuggetpalooza — the Patriots have not allowed a rushing touchdown in the first quarter in their last 22 home games, the longest current streak in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Chargers haven’t scored such a touchdown in any of their last eight road tilts.

5. News on two former Patriots worth passing along: One, defensive lineman Ty Warren was placed on injured reserve on Saturday with a pectoral injury. It’ll make back-to-back seasons on injured reserve for Warren, who missed all of last season with New England because of a hip injury. For the immensely likable Warren, it could mean the end of his career. Second, it looks like safety Brandon Meriweather is going to start this week for the Bears against the Saints in New Orleans. It’ll be the first time Meriweather has faced the Saints since the Patriots were blown out of the Superdome in 2009, 38-17. It was an ugly game for New England, one that Meriweather remembers. “I dropped two picks that game,’’ Meriweather told the Chicago Tribune. “It was very frustrating. Any time you get a chance to get a pick, you want to get it, especially when you’re going against an elite quarterback. That’s one of the balls you put up in your trophy room and brag about.’’

6. Not to start looking too far down the road here, but if the Patriots beat the Chargers on Sunday, with New England’s next two games against Buffalo and Oakland, the Patriots have an excellent chance of heading into their Oct. 9 matchup with the Jets at 4-0.

7. Two notes for fans coming to Sunday’s game: First, the Patriots will distribute 70,000 pins bearing the initials “MHK” to fans coming to the contest in honor of Myra Kraft, who passed away this past summer after a battle with cancer. Prior to the game, players, coaches and fans alike will also observe a moment of silence in memory of Myra. Second, the NFL announced at the start of the regular season that there will be “enhanced” pat-down procedures for fans entering stadiums. The new search will be from the ankles up for banned items such as alcohol and weapons. (Previously, the search was from the waist up.) NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that since the pat downs likely will take longer now, fans should try to arrive at games earlier.

8. There’s also going to be a halftime ceremony honoring the two newest members of the Patriots Hall of Fame, Drew Bledsoe and Jon Morris. I’m not going to pretend I ever saw Morris play the game, but I can tell you that Bledsoe was one of the most important people in the history of the franchise. Courtesy of my colleague Kirk Minihane: from 1996-98, Bledsoe had a combined 75 touchdowns and at least 3,600 yards each year. In addition, during his nine-year Patriots career, he broke the franchise career passing records for attempts (4,518), completions (2,544) and yards (29,657).

9. Three quick links: 10 matchups to look for, Nuggetpalooza’s terrific stat breakdown and quotes from Albert Haynesworth saying the defensive line needs to improve this week against the Chargers.

10. Patriots, 31-17.

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