Week 2 Free NFL Picks: San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots NFL Week 2 Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on CBS 9/18/11: For the second week in a row, two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will go head to head. Coming off a record-setting performance last Monday night, defending NFL MVP Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will welcome 2010-11 passing yardage leader Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers to Foxboro. Both teams are loaded offensively and favored to win their divisions this season. This Sunday’s matchup could be a sneak peak at an eventual playoff meeting, and the Patriots enter this meeting as seven-point favorites.

While Brady and Rivers are the headliners, both players have actually struggled in head-to-head matchups. Rivers is just 1-4 against the Patriots in his career, while Brady has barely thrown more touchdowns than interceptions against the Chargers. New England topped San Diego 23-20 last season, but Brady managed just a single touchdown pass and threw for less than 200 yards. Perhaps more importantly, the Chargers have been one of the few teams to be able to consistently pressure Brady in the pocket.

The Chargers defense appears to be up to the challenge again this year, coming off an impressive performance against Minnesota in Week 1. San Diego held Vikings’ QB Donovan McNabb to just 39 yards passing, and while Brady is head and shoulders above McNabb at this stage in his career, the numbers are impressive nonetheless. It is highly unlikely that Brady will approach the 500-plus yards he put up last Monday night against the Dolphins, and if the Chargers can hold him to around 200 yards as they have in the past, they have a chance at pulling out a road win.

In order for that to happen, Rivers will have to be on the mark. Having receiver Vincent Jackson at his disposal should help the cause. Jackson missed last year’s game against the Patriots, and his big play ability should help open things up for Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates, and the rest of the Chargers’ receivers. If last week was any indication, the New England secondary could be a weak point for the otherwise stacked Patriots. After getting torched by Miami QB Chad Henne for more than 400 yards, the Patriots secondary won’t find life any easier against the more experienced Rivers.

For New England, the X-factor could be the play of its tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The offense is featuring more and more packages that utilize both players at the same time. Defenses had a hard enough time containing just one of them at a time last season, and the Dolphins found the combination nearly impossible to stop in Week 1. San Diego will be forced to have its linebackers work in coverage against Gronkowski and Hernandez, which should help take away some of the pressure that the Chargers have been able to apply in the past.

The key for San Diego will be to avoid becoming one dimensional on offense. Running backs Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert both got involved in the win against Minnesota, but with Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork manning the middle of the New England defensive line, open lanes are going to be tough to find. The Chargers have to find a way to keep the New England defense honest, or Rivers’ job is going to get considerably tougher.

In the end, the Patriots appear to have the more talented and more balanced offense, while the Chargers can say the same about their defense. As history has shown, the San Diego defense has had success slowing down Brady and even forcing turnovers. However, New England has still managed to pull out wins more often than not. Playing at home, the Patriots and their high-powered offense should be able to do just enough to grab the victory, but San Diego will hang tough and make them work for it.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers (+7) Cover the Spread

Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: San Diego Chargers +7

Week 2 NFL Football: San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots
Date: 9/18/011
Time: 4:15 PM EST on CBS
Vegas Odds - Favorite: New England -7 | Total: Over/Under 53.5

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