This week, the so far so sloppy Chargers host the best coach in the game, who was probably drawing up X's and O's in his crib. Bill Belichick will find and probe and exploit any weakness the Chargers have exhibited over the first six games (he'll have a lot to choose from). If San Diego isn't at its best, the 4-1 Patriots will roll over them, then frustratingly control the clock and the game by throwing short passes to their stable quick mini-receivers.
Because the Patriots are smart and well coached, it is crucial the Chargers get off to a fast start and stay very close or keep the lead throughout the game. Another sleepwalking start will be fatal. There will be no charging second half comebacks this week. The Pats are too good.
From listening to the Charger players this week, it appears they realize do or die time is finally here. Dropping to 2-5 with a couple more tough games ahead might just be too devastating to recover from, even in the woeful AFC West. Norv's got to know, despite what everyone says about AJ and Dean's love for him, that if this team fails to make the playoffs this season, some crucial momentum and confidence will have been lost within the franchise (a hard thing to get back) and it will be his fault. Look at the New York Giants, a team that won the Super Bowl a few season's ago, now their momentum is gone, and head coach Tom Coughlin seems unable to get it back (should have been fired last year).
This game against the Patriots might just be the tipping point. Win and you've beaten one of the best teams in the NFL and shown The League you still belong in the elite; lose and you may signal the long slow slide of a franchise back to mediocrity. The window will close.
Perhaps my emotions are getting in the way, but I'm not ready let this era of the Chargers die yet. Playing at home seems to give the younger players more comfort and confidence to perform at their best. My head says I may be fooling myself here (how could a fan not lose faith after the last two weeks?), but I'm picking the Chargers to win this one.
San Diego 27, Patriots 24