ESPN's Pats-Chargers prediction roundup

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
11:50
AM ET


A roundup of how ESPN's analysts see Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game playing out:

ChargersPatriots* ESPNBoston.com Patriots analyst Tedy Bruschi: Patriots 31, Chargers 28 (OT). Tom Brady hasn't lost a regular-season home game in a long time -- Nov. 12, 2006 to the New York Jets -- and I think his streak continues. The Patriots defense doesn't want to have another performance like last week. I think they answer the bell and I wouldn't be surprised if Chad Ochocinco is incorporated more into the offense and catches around five balls and gets a touchdown.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss: Patriots 35, Chargers 31. This looks like it has the potential to be a high-scoring, entertaining game. The Patriots have been tough in home openers, although this is a challenging spot coming off a Monday night road game. If Tom Brady gets the same level of pass protection as Monday, he could once again light up the scoreboard.

* ESPNBoston.com columnist Jackie MacMullan: Patriots 38, Chargers 34. A repeat of last week’s performance by the offense (and the defense, for that matter).

* ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg: Patriots 23, Chargers 20. The key for the Patriots is forcing San Diego to settle for field goals. The Chargers' offense is too good to not move the ball and New England's defense must limit the damage, much like it did against Miami (forcing three failed red zone trips and limiting first downs). No franchise records for Brady and Co. here, but the offense avoids turnovers and does enough to get the win with a more balanced attack.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Adam Jones: Patriots 31, Chargers 28. Care to guess the last time the Patriots lost to the Chargers with Tom Brady as their starting quarterback? That would be 2005. Brady is 4-0 against the Bolts since then, including a pair of playoff victories. The guess here is Brady makes enough plays down the stretch to overcome the Chargers high voltage offense.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Andrew Brooks: Patriots 34, Chargers 28. If Chad Henne can throw for 400 plus yards against the Patriots, just imagine what Philip Rivers can do with better targets. Pats will win this but the Chargers will keep it close.

* Grantland's Bill Simmons: Chargers (+7) over PATRIOTS. Another overvalue/undervalue situation: The Pats looked superhuman in Miami, while San Diego had everything go wrong in that Vikings game (it started with the Chargers' giving up a kick return TD and their kicker blowing out his knee, so they eventually had to go for fourth-and-longs a couple of times) and squeaked out a game that never should have been close. I can't see either defense getting off the field in this game. By the way, Tom Brady is putting Pats fans through the grinder right now: He's playing with his hair Vujacic-style on the sideline, he's throwing for 517 yards in one game, he's making UGG commercials, he's making likable cameos in Bill Belichick documentaries … the heads of Boston fans are spinning.

* ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth: Patriots 34, Chargers 20. Anytime you play against the Patriots it's all about Tom Brady. Can you put pressure on Tom Brady? Can you create turnovers. I don't believe the San Diego Chargers can do that., I don't believe they'll sack him enough and get to him enough and frustrate him enough.

* ESPN experts: All eight pick the Patriots.

* Sunday Countdown: Keyshawn Johnson, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka and Cris Carter pick the Patriots.

* AccuScore simulations: Patriots 31, Chargers 27 (on average). Patriots win 69 percent of more than 10,000 simulations. You can simulate the game yourself here.

* Madden 12 simulation: Patriots 27, Chargers 24. It wasn't 99 yards, but Wes Welker's 6-yard touchdown catch with under a minute left on the clock was still enough to beat the Chargers as the Patriots scored 17 second half points to pull out the 27-24 win. Tom Brady threw for 355 yards and two scores to help the Patriots start the season 2-0.

* Doug Kretz, Scouts Inc. (Insider): Patriots 27, Chargers 22 (Editor's note: This prediction has changed since Thursday).

* Make your Week 2 picks with our Pigskin Pick’Em contest.

* What's your prediction for Patriots-Chargers? Leave it in the comments section of this blog post.

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