To begin, I’ve been away for a while, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about this weekend in Foxboro. To start, Tom Brady (aka Brazilian Poolboy)wants Pats fans to get “lubed up” before the game and get ready to make it loud. As a season ticket holder in the past (before Gillette Stadium), that is pretty much all I did in my early 20′s and have very few second half memories of any game that I attended.
That said, Brady is talking about how corporate the Razor feels every Sunday. For years, my family and I have skipped home games and went on the road to see the Pats, rather than waste away in six hours of traffic. The fans in Foxboro, while I love all of them, are too freaking quiet during crucial moments in a game. In 2007, the Chargers came into Gillette and almost beat an unbeaten team to get to Super Bowl and the place was a morgue. Every stadium that I have ever been to, with the exception of Atlanta, is louder. The old dump, Foxboro Stadium, was ridiculous in how involved the fans were. The fact of the matter, however, is all Boston sports venues have turned into a wine and cheese crowd and at least 30% of the people in the building have no idea what they are watching.
To say that I am worried about this game is an understatement. I pretty much watched all of the Chargers-Vikings and came away with the same feeling I have every year. As long as Norv Turner coaches this team, they will never be consistent. Rivers’ numbers (33-48, 335 2/2) were pedestrian, as everyone threw for three hundy last week and he had a couple of really bad picks in the process. The fact the Chargers have to throw 48 times to beat 39 yards passing by Donovan McNabb tells you all you need to know about Week #1. But, there is no more capable QB in the league that can go on the road, in a tough spot, and win. We know that. I’d like to say the Pats would have home-field advantage, but, as you know, the crowd would rather boo us than you.
My biggest fear is exactly what helped the Patriots beat the Dolphins last week will be the thing that kills them this week. New England had two TEs on the field all night in Miami and Tony Sporano had no answer. San Diego has better LBs and have always been able to get to Brady. I think you will see a lot of Danny Woodhead and BJGE running the ball, as the loss of Luis Castillo has to be checked @ some point and a ton of Brady grinding the team down the field, with dump-offs, screens and slants. Defensivley, I think the Patriots have some things to prove. Brandon Marshall got to Devin McCourty a few times last week and Vincent Jackson is at least on an equal scale. Ras-I Dowling and Malcolm Floyd is and intriguing watch, as I think the former showed a significant ability to get near the ball last week and Floyd is the type of physical receiver Belichick had in mind when he drafted Dowling. I do not think the Chargers are going to be able to run the ball, though, as Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork have at least the ability to move the line in the direction of the run, which should allow the ends and LBs to stretch Matthews/Tolbert into east-west runners. As for Rivers, there will be gaudy numbers, but it will all come down to a few decisions he makes/doesn’t make that will determine if the Chargers will outscore New England; who has scored 30+ in nine straight. The line (-7.5) is way too high on this game, but, if I were a betting man, I would take the over (53.5) and hold on for dear life.