Chargers vs. Patriots: Chad Ochocinco and 5 Players to Watch

William PenfieldCorrespondent IISeptember 17, 2011

Chargers vs. Patriots: Chad Ochocinco and 5 Players to Watch

0 of 6

    The San Diego Chargers will try and get their first win against the New England Patriots since 2008 at Gillette Stadium, a place where Tom Brady has won 28 consecutive regular-season home games.

    Aside from Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers, both teams will need role players to step up in order to secure victory.

    Here are six players to watch in the matchup between the Patriots and Chargers. 

Ryan Matthews

1 of 6

    In order to beat the Patriots tomorrow, the Chargers will have to establish some sort of running game.

    The man needed to do that, Ryan Matthews.

    The 2010 first-round pick was sort of a disappointment, with only 678 yards in his first season, he rushed for just 45 yards in the opening game of 2011.

    If the Chargers are going to win, they will need a better performance out of Matthews. It will be tough with the "beef curtain" in the middle for the Pats (Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork), but without an established running game, the offense will be too one-dimensional. 

    Keep an eye on Matthews tomorrow and see if he can do anything against the monstrous defensive line of the Patriots. 

Ras-I Dowling

2 of 6

    With shutdown corner Devin McCourty opposite him, Ras-I Dowling could be the difference between a Patriots win and a Patriots loss.

    Dowling did a good job in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, but the intensity will be kicked up in Week 2 as he will be matched up against one of the giant San Diego receivers, Malcolm Floyd or Vincent Jackson.

    Both guys have the ability to jump over the corner and make a catch, so Dowling will need to keep an eye on the ball at all times.

    If Dowling is able to shut down his receiver, the Patriots could be looking at a victory tomorrow.

Nate Solder

3 of 6

    The huge first-round pick of the Patriots came up big in his first start against the Dolphins and will need to do much of the same against the Chargers tomorrow.

    Solder was an absolute monster against the Dolphins, able to hold one of the best pass rushers in the league, Cameron Wake, in check on Monday Night Football.

    He will have his hands full with another great pass rusher, Shaun Phillips, who had 11 sacks in 2010.

    If Solder is able to hold Phillips in check, Tom Brady will be allowed more time to throw and will certainly help the Patriots beat the Chargers. 

Shaun Phillips

4 of 6

    With a rookie blocking him, Shaun Phillips will be key to the Chargers' pass rush to make Tom Brady uncomfortable.

    If Brady is allowed time, he will carve you up like a surgeon, as he did against the Dolphins in Week 1.

    As previously stated, Solder showed he is no slouch against the Dolphins, holding his own against one of the top pass rushers in the league, Cameron Wake, so Phillips will need to bring his "A" game.

    The pressure Phillips is able to put on Brady could be on of the deciding factors in this game because pressure leads to turnovers. 

Chad Ochocinco

5 of 6

    Chad Ochocinco was virtually a non-factor in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.

    Although he may not be necessary for victory, his involvement in the offense could put the Patriots over the edge.

    A dynamic receiver like Ochocinco is something Brady hasn't had since Randy Moss left early last year.

    If he is able to get acclimated to the offense sooner rather than later, this Patriot offense could be unstoppable.

    Keep an eye out for how much he is on the field because the more he is, the more the Patriots are beginning to trust him in their complicated offense. 

Tight Ends

6 of 6

    The tight ends will likely be the key to both the Chargers' and the Patriots' offenses (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski for the Pats, and Antonio Gates for the Chargers).

    The tight ends are arguably each quarterbacks favorite targets and best receivers. 

    Gronkowski and Hernandez showed no mercy against the Dolphins in Week 1, both scoring a touchdown, and Gates was the Chargers' leading receiver against the Vikings.

    The team with the better performance out of their tight ends will have the edge on offense in this game.