Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Bonnie Bernstein
SERIES: 33rd meeting. New England Patriots lead the series, 17-13-2. But the Chargers won the last meeting, when defeating the visiting Pats, 21-14 in 2002. The Pats came in fresh off their first Super Bowl win and with a 3-0 mark, but LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 217 yards and two scores to turn back the Pats. The Chargers' lone championship came in the AFL, and they beat the Boston Patriots, 51-10, in 1963 to do it.
*2005 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 14th (3rd rush, 25th pass); defense 25th (14th rush, 28th pass). Patriots: offense 5th (30th rush, 2nd pass); defense 9th (6th rush, 11th pass)
PREDICTION: Chargers 24-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: As tempting as it may be to attack the Patriots' beat up secondary, the Chargers can't get away from relying heavily on RB LaDainian Tomlinson. They need to get him early touches and use him as the primary weapon to set up the downfield passing game. Second-year S Guss Scott will start with SS Rodney Harrison out for the season, but the Patriots have shown the ability to stick in new parts and keep on ticking. With New England holding such a strong home-field advantage, the Chargers can't afford to lose the turnover battle. The Patriots could have trouble controlling the clock with the offensive line struggling to open holes for RB Corey Dillon, but QB Tom Brady should have little trouble moving the ball against the Chargers' suspect secondary.
FAST FACTS: Chargers: Are 13-4 when Tomlinson scores at least two touchdowns. ... Tomlinson has at least one touchdown in 15 consecutive games, four shy of Lenny Moore's NFL record. Patriots: Have a 21-game home winning streak dating to Dec. 22, 2002 and are 25-3 (.893) all-time at Gillette Stadium. ... Dillon needs 137 rushing yards to become 17th player with 10,000 for his career.
--LG Toniu Fonoti (hairline fracture in his hand) didn't attend practice. He was seeking another opinion on his injured hand. If he plays Sunday, it will be in a backup role with Kris Dielman starting at Fonoti's left guard spot.
--CB Quentin Jammer (quad) sat out in what he says was just a precautionary measure. He said he'll be fine for Sunday. Jamar Fletcher ran in his place today; although if Jammer couldn't go, Sammy Davis would likely replace him.
--TE Antonio Gates figures to have a large role on Sunday. His practices, and his game showings, just keep getting better.
--WR Vincent Jackson is finally back working after a long layoff with a strained calf. It's doubtful, though, he will be active for Sunday.
--CBs Randall Gay and Tyrone Poole, both out with ankle injuries, were not on the field Thursday during the first 30 minutes of practice that the media was allowed to watch. Gay missed last week's game. Poole hasn't played since Week 1.
--CBs Chad Scott (shoulder/hand) and Duane Starks (thigh) are expected to play. Both are listed as questionable on the injury report - the same designation they had last week when they suited up against Pittsburgh.
--S James Sanders (ankle) was not on the field Thursday during the first 30 minutes of practice that the media was allowed to watch.
--WR Troy Brown has 488 career catches and needs three more to move into second place on the team's all-time list ahead of Ben Coates. Brown is also 30 yards away from bumping Irving Fryar out the No. 2 spot on the Patriots' career receiving yardage list. Brown has 5,697 yards.
RELATED: Injury Analysis :-: Keys to the Game :-: Inside the Camps :-: Chargers - Patriots Q & A :-: Pregame Report :-: Chargers - Patriots: Looking Ahead :-: Hot News :-: Newswire: (Latests Patriots news from the Web)
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