I have no interest in trying to sugarcoat this so I'm just going to lay it all out and let you be the judge. The Jets rank in the bottom ten of everything except scoring, overall and passing defense, all of which they are very successful at so far. The Chargers rank in the top ten of everything but rushing defense and overall scoring, which they are above average and very good at, respectively. For all the complaints of Philip Rivers' inefficiency or a lethargic offense from fans at Bolts From The Blue, the stats simply don't reflect that as the Chargers are for all intents and purposes a great team on paper.
With all of that said, our mutual records need to be considered. The 4-1 Chargers have beaten the likes of the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins. All of those games were close. The only team over .500 to face the Chargers, the New England Patriots, handily beat the Bolts by 14 points. The Jets 3 losses come from formidable teams. The Jets need to demonstrate an ability to defeat a winning team if they wish to contend for the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers reside in the AFC West and could probably get into the playoffs at this rate. Both teams need to show they can hang with the big dogs this year.
There will be a full breakdown after the rundown and the jump. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, questions, or general predictions for Sunday's early game below.
@ -- Sunday, Oct. 23rd, 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.
Coverage: CBS. DirecTV 705. Sirius XM 93.
Record: Chargers lead the all-time series 19-13-1.
What happened last time? Jets won over the Chargers in playoffs, 17-14.
Jets Out: Isaiah Trufant (CB) Hamstring.(WR) Wrist,
Questionable:(C) Ankle, Mike Devito (DT) Knee.
Chargers only list on the official report as of 4:30pm Friday 10/21/2011 that Luis Castillo, Antonio Gates, and Marcus Gilchrist did not participate in practice, and that Vincent Jackson is probable.
Offense: The Jets are 29th in overall offense, 11th in points, 23rd in passing and 31st in rushing for the 2nd straight week. SD is 6th in yards, 13th in points, 6th passing and 9th in rushing.
Defense: The Jets are 11th overall, 5th against the pass, and 28th against the rush. San Diego is 4th overall, 2nd against the pass, and 17th against the run.
San Diego player(s) to watch: RB's Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert
The Jets porous run defense played huge roles in our defeats at the hands of the Raiders, Ravens, and Patriots. You simply cannot ignore how awful we look against the run if you are Norv Turner. The Chargers may very well want to avoid directly challenging the Jets secondary right off the bat, as Philip Rivers has a 6-7 TD/INT ratio (Sanchez has a 9-5). The Jets will be the very first top ranked secondary the Chargers face all season after facing the worst defenses in the league.
I would bet a pretty penny that Turner and company test the young defensive line immediately. If Devito is out Kenrick Ellis may very well be looking at full time work. The second line of defense isn't looking much prettier. Bryan Thomas was one of our best run defenders coming into the season and now he's gone. I expect them to run it at us all day long, and how Jamaal Westerman, Bart Scott, and David Harris all react will be crucial. The way San Diego can stretch the field and make you pay on passing downs, and how well VJ has matched up with Revis in the past lead me to believe that the front seven won't have safety help to rely on as much and if they don't do their job Tolbert or Matthews will make huge gains until someone like Jim Leonhard chases them down.
Simply put, Jets have to step it up in run defense.
Jets X-factor: Darelle Revis
Off of a mere 3 additional receptions, Vincent Jackson has well over 100 more yards than Santonio Holmes. VJ is a beast at stretching the field, and he is one of the few receivers with a track record of success against Revis. I imagine both men will be playing very hard in order to prove something. Antonio Cromartie's improvement is also critical, as the San Diego staff know him very well, and have plenty of alternative receiving options they can use against him.
Potential Jets MVP: Ladainian Tomlinson.
Awfully funny timing in moving LDT to the front of the pack. John B commented that this is likely ceremonial, and I don't disagree, but I think either way we are seeing a larger role from Tomlinson on Sunday. The San Diego Chargers run defense, while not weakest, is the most susceptible of any Chargers unit. Shonn Greene and Tomlinson will need to tear up the field, because our offense hasn't looked good against poor defenses, and this defense is anything but poor so far. San Diego is second against the pass, I don't expect Mark Sanchez to be very effective against them. If Sanchez is called on to pass, having kept the Chargers defense honest with the run is the Jets only real chance.
Prediction: Jets 21 Chargers 17
I am probably being way too optimistic here. This game is critical. We can go into the bye either a winning team or a losing team. But to be frank, if we cannot beat teams like San Diego then we will not likely have a successful season. Sooner or later if you want to get over the hump and into the playoffs, you need to beat the middle of the pack, or even sometimes the great teams. We can either expose the soft-scheduled Chargers as frauds or go into our week off as an inferior team. I consider this a huge referendum on our trajectory for the season.
J-E-T-S! JETS JETS JETS!!!