Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. One of the things I’m most curious to watch today is how much safety Brandon Meriweather plays. I want to see if there is any trickle-down effect, from a coaching standpoint, from Meriweather’s undisciplined hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap last week.
2. The Chargers are the NFL’s best team on first down, as they average 6.98 yards per first-down play. They can pick up chunks in a hurry. If I’m the Patriots, I’m thinking about a 4-2-5 defense that is heavy up front to respect the run, but adds some extra help on the back end to defend those big passing plays.
3. With the Colts losing tight end Dallas Clark, this will be a test of their depth. I’ve generally viewed the Colts as a team with a top-heavy roster, and have wondered how they would fare if a star player went down. Now we’ll see.
4. Richard Seymour has 1.5 sacks for the Raiders this season. Not that sacks are the only way to measure production, but it makes me wonder if the Raiders feel they’ve received a good return on their investment in that trade with New England.
5. On the flip side, the Browns must feel good about their signing of free-agent tight end Benjamin Watson. He has 29 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns this season. A fresh start has seemed to spark Watson.
6. Here’s a stat one didn’t expect to see entering Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game: San Diego punter Mike Scifres, annually one of the league’s best, ranks last in the NFL in net yardage (25.9). Meanwhile, Patriots rookie punter Zoltan Mesko is third (41.6).
7. Detroit (9.8 per game), Dallas (9.8) and Oakland (9.16) are the NFL’s most penalized teams through six weeks (based on accepted penalties). They have just four wins between them.
8. Bufalo’s Lee Evans (15 catches, 181 yards) and Carolina’s Steve Smith (13 catches, 174 yards): Two top-notch receivers hamstrung but not having a starting-caliber quarterback to get them the ball.
9. Credit to the New York Jets. I thought they would have self-destructed by now. They are for real.
10. Logan Mankins’ locker remains intact inside the Patriots’ locker room, with his nameplate and practice jerseys. One might think the Patriots would remove it given his contract standoff, but that is a sign to me that he will be welcomed back when he ultimately reports.