The New York Jets have embarked on an improbable run with a convincing victory over the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. Faced with the prospect of having to beat an NFL team not once but twice in back to back weeks, there were many who gave the Jets a snowballs chance in Hell of success.
Looks like even Hell is facing climate change problems.
Now New York and company must travel to San Diego to face a Chargers team that many consider to be the hottest team in the AFC. Many will tell you that if the Jets were like snowballs in Hell last week, then they are like cake at fat camp this week.
They don’t stand a chance.
Philip Rivers is arguably the hottest QB in the league. In 2009 Rivers maintained a 65.2% completion percentage, threw for 4,254 yards with 28 touch downs to only 8 interceptions. San Diego, winners of 11 straight, have scored no less than 20 points in any game. There is little doubt that Rivers is one of the elite QBs of the league.
Of course, part of Rivers success has a lot to do with the three legit weapons at his disposal — WRs Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and TE Antonio Gates. All three are proven threats and against the Jets, they come into the contest with at least one clear cut advantage…height. All three are at least 6′4″ while the tallest defender the Jets have to offer is Kerry Rhodes who is listed at 6′3″.
When you start to put it all together like this, it’s easy to throw your hands up and declare San Diego the obvious winner. I disagree. There are several factors that indicate the New York Jets may, in fact, have the upper hand come Sunday.
San Diego will be one of the toughest passing attacks these Jets have had to face yet, however let’s not brush aside that this is the leagues number one pass defense. Nor should one ignore that this is the fifth elite passing attack faced by the Jets this season: Texans (W, 24-7), Pats (W, 16-9 and L, 31-14), Saints (L, 24-10) and Colts (W, 29-15). In the two losses, the Jets were undermined more by Mark Sanchez INTs than poor defense.
The Jets defense can take away the one thing that the Chargers do best, the deep ball. The Chargers number one WR, Vincent Jackson, will find himself a guest on "Revis Island", the sole domain of New York Jets premiere corner back, Darrelle Revis. Revis’ ability to literally blanket the best WRs the NFL has to offer opens the doors of possibilities for the Jets defensively. This will make covering the talented Chargers TE Antonio Gates, RBs LaDamian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles easier for the secondary and thus help to eliminate or severely hamper Philip Rivers ability to dump the ball in the shallows when his receivers are too well covered.
I highly doubt the Jets defense will allow Rivers to take many 7 step drops unmolested to make the big throws down field. The Jets propensity for breaking down the opponents offensive protection schemes will likely keep Rivers off balance, forcing him to either make bad / forced throws or simply throw the ball away to avoid the sack and a loss of yards.
Should the Jets manage to disrupt the Chargers passing game, it will force them to march down the field to score and that is simply not the game the Chargers play.
The main reason for this? The Chargers have the second worst run game behind Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Running on the New York defense is a tough proposition. The Jets allowed only one 100+ yard rusher all season and LT is not what he once was. Even with the emergence of Darren Sproles, the Chargers floundered with the 31st rushing offense in the league.
Normally, this is where I would point out the inadequacies of a one dimensional football team but we all know the Jets have some issues there as well. Mark Sanchez, I’m looking at you…
Will the Jets version of one dimensional be good enough to beat out the Chargers version?
I believe so.
This is mainly because of the tremendous run game New York will have in tow. Mark Sanchez has proven to still have a lot to learn about the game but he has also proven to be a quick study and has now demonstrated the ability to manage both himself and the game. By limiting the number of rookie mistakes, he has allowed the run game to really flourish as the Jets entered the playoffs.
San Diego simply does not have the defense it will need to be able to contain the Jets running game. The Jets offensive line will likely dominate a Chargers defensive line that is very weak against the run (20th over all), allowing the Jets to run all over them through out the game.
The Chargers have had issues against the run since DL Jamal Williams got hurt, so the Jets should be able to hold the ball longer and keep it out of Philip Rivers’ hands.
Knowing how deadly the Jets run game is and how not deadly rookie QB Mark Sanchez has been, it is a sure bet that the main focus of San Diego’s game plan will be to stop the run. This may well play to Sanchez’s favor, allowing him chances to make more throws down field than he is normally allowed. It will be a long day for Chargers fans if the Jets manage to get both the run game and the passing game going on Sunday.
A long day indeed.
Am I being over confident about the Jets chances? Perhaps, but it helps to know that San Diego lost to the Ravens, who are basically a carbon copy of the Jets. Plus, I suspect the Chargers could be overconfident against a Jets team they don’t know very well. Over looking a team has never been a good thing in the modern day NFL where on any given Sunday…
Any way you slice it, the Chargers don’t match up as well against the Jets as some would like for you to believe.
Xander Diaz is Editor-In-Chief for AFCBeast.com.