John’s Well-Educated Guesses: Week 8

It’s always been my dream to start a blog series that would go until the end of the season.  This is one blog in that series, and I will answer for my predictions next week. 
Disclaimer: My takes are almost always correct.  So buckle up- buckaroo

The Patriots look like the Patriots again.  I had forgotten how nice it is to watch good, complementary football.  To get the lead and run the ball.  To have the win look easy against an otherwise quality opponent.  I was prepared for a full season of this, but apparently the waves of mediocrity crashed upon the shores of New England.  At least for one night against the Falcons, life was good.

This next game represents the end of what I am referring to as the first third of the season.  The bye is next week, followed by a BRUTAL road stretch, followed by playing the AFC East for the last few weeks.  Suffice to say, the Pats need to take care of business before a much needed rest. 

Now we turn our sites on the hated San Diego Chargers.  A once vaunted foe who has struggled in recent years.  There is some decent history between these two teams, but it all goes the Patriot’s way.  The Chargers were an absolute BEAST of a team several years ago, and the Pats routinely beat them in the playoffs.  (Who can forget Ladanian Tomlinson crying at the post-game press conference after standing on the sideline all game like a loser?)  Now they look like a shadow of their former selves.

Philip Rivers still leads the way for San Diego.  He sure seems like the odd man out in that 2004 draft which produced multi-Super Bowl winners Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.  Nonetheless he is still productive (and has about 100 children…people forget that.)  Melvin Gordon looks like a first round back after a terrible first year in the league.  They like to ride him as much as possible, and without Malcolm Brown, the Pats could have a hard time stopping the run.  

Truth be told, it’s the Chargers defense, and their pass rush in particular that keep me up at night.  They have invested heavily in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa on the edges.  They can get after it.  The key to the game is going to be stopping the interior pressure.  If Brady can’t step up on the pocket, it’s going to be a looong day.

That being said, the Chargers are an inferior opponent who often turns into a pumpkin when they travel East.  I’m glad this game is at home.

Prediction:  Melvin Gordon is gonna go off:  I’m really hoping the Patriots Defense is back and better than ever.  Don’t hold your breath though.  I think they will rest Malcolm Brown and will have some problems with the run.  Especially look for quick passes to get Gordon into space.  Lets say he has to go over 100 on the ground for me to be right.
Prediction:  Dion Lewis leads the team in carries and has himself a day:   Lewis seemed like an afterthought at the beginning of the season.  The Pats had too many new toys and he was too prone to injury right? WRONG.  Even though Burkhead is back and Gillislee seems to be getting out of the doghouse, Dion ‘Squirty’ Lewis is gonna get 15+ carries.

Prediction:  No big plays for Patriots D:  This is the one trend I really want to see continue.  If the defense is bend, but don’t break…Im ok with that.  I just can’t have 75 yard plays go for a tuddy.  Make them earn it and run the clock.  I think it’s stupid to have a metric for what is a big play and what is not.  I’ll know it when I see it.

Prediction: 27-20 Patriots win: Let’s get out of here and get healthy for our road stretch