New England Patriots: KICKOFF: 10 a.m. at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. > SERIES: New England leads 17-13-2. The Chargers won the last meeting 21-14 at home in 2002. PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tom Brady All he has done is lead the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in four years as a starting quarterback. If the Patriots win it all again this year, it will be largely because of Brady, since their defense isn’t as robust as it has been. Brady has thrown only three TD passes in three games, but he has only two interceptions, has accumulated 948 yards and boasts a quarterback rating (88.4) that is above his career average (87.5). Brady’s numbers are solid but not spectacular. His true value is that he always seems to do enough to win. He has a career record of 59-15, the best of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. On Sunday, he engineered his 18th game-winning drive while dismantling Pittsburgh, 23-20. If Brady goes down, the Chargers will see an old friend. Ageless Doug Flutie, a Charger from 2001-04, is Brady’s backup. OFFENSE The Patriots haven’t missed a beat despite losing respected offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who became head coach at Notre Dame. The Patriots are fifth in the NFL with 364.3 yards per game, although most of it has come through the air. RB Corey Dillon has rushed for only 160 yards and averages only 2.7 yards per carry, but he does have four touchdowns. The biggest change with Weis gone is that Brady is taking more responsibility for play calls. According to Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com, Brady has made “check with me'’ calls at the line of scrimmage on about 65 percent of the plays this season. One method teams are using in trying to slow New England’s attack is to blitz. Carolina did it 41 times two weeks ago and won 27-17. Deion Branch is an explosive receiver, but has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. David Givens is a nice complement to Branch, although Brady favors throwing to his tight ends, Daniel Graham and Ben Watson, especially near the goal line. DEFENSE The Patriots’ defense took a big hit when they lost a pair of run-stuffing linebackers —- Carlsbad’s Ted Johnson, who retired, and Tedy Bruschi, who is sitting out the season after suffering a stroke. Now comes word that SS Rodney Harrison is done for the season after suffering a major knee injury Sunday. The ex-Chargers star will be missed for not only his hard hits but his leadership. His backup, James Sanders, is not yet ready to come back from a knee injury, leaving the team weak at safety. Second-year pro Guss Scott filled in for Harrison on Sunday, but is the only pure safety left on the roster. The Pats may move backup CB Chad Scott there, sign someone, or use WR Troy Brown at the position —- something they have done in the past. The Pats still are a respectable ninth in the NFL in defense, allowing only 285.7 yards per game, although they have permitted at least 20 points in each of their three games. DE Richard Seymour is a force and leads the team in tackles (14) and sacks (two). The Pats usually start off in a 3-4 alignment, but often will switch into the 4-3, which seems to fit them better with their two stud linebackers gone. LBs Monty Beisel and Chad Brown have been productive. The Pats limited Pittsburgh to 79 yards rushing and a 3.4 average; the Steelers came into the game averaging a league-best 170.5 yards rushing. NOTEWORTHY The Patriots are 25-3 in Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. …. Dillon was selected by the Padres as an outfielder in the 34th round of the 1993 baseball draft. … Pats K Adam Vinatieri has made a habit of kicking clutch field goals, including two Super Bowl winners. He also worked to strengthen his leg in the offseason and has responded with deeper kickoffs. … Pats OT Matt Light suffered a serious ankle injury against Pittsburgh. … RG Stephen Neal is a San Diego High graduate. … Punt returner/WR Tim Dwight played for the Chargers from 2001-04.