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The New York Jets continue their slide after dropping a loss to the Detroit Lions and falling to 1-3. As the patience of Jets fans everywhere is collectively tested by injuries and underwhelming play, the unforgiving NFL sends the Jets to their next challenger at Qualcomm, the AFC West-leading San Diego Chargers. Geno Smith may be facing the bench in favor of Michael Vick if his play does not improve. A win would be invaluable to the Jets in their quest to regain a competitive position in the standings, while a defeat would seriously harm the Jets chances of making the playoffs this season.
Where Each Team Is
The Chargers are somewhat surprisingly leading the AFC West division over the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. Philip Rivers leads a formidable passing attack while the Chargers defense is on average among the best in the league. The disappointing Jets offensive effort may very well continue against a defense that ranks well above average by every measure.
The Jets had a disastrous outing against the Detroit Lions. Featured player Eric Decker is fighting a lingering hamstring injury, which seriously limits the Jets abilities in the passing game whether he plays or not. Jeremy Kerley does the best he can, but after him there is a massive drop off in game-ready talent that can play at an NFL level. Jets fans are hopeful the other receivers can add some spark in the stead of the injured and underperforming David Nelson.
Sister Site: Bolts From The Blue
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA.
Field: Open air, natural grass.
Coverage: CBS. The most popular network among wearers of adult diapers, either by choice or circumstance.
Weather: Sunny with a high of 89 degrees F. I got very angry as I wrote that. It's not warm here.
Record: Chargers lead the all-time series 20-14-1.
What happened last time? Chargers shot down the Jets by a score of 27-17 on December 23rd, 2012.
Who is favored? Chargers by 7.
Jets: With a quarter of the season in the bag, the Jets are 26th in points scored, 11th in overall yards, 21st in passing yards and 2nd in rushing. It appears as if the Jets will enjoy top-5 running offense status for the entirety of the NFL season barring some drastic change. In spite of the Jets strong and consistent rush attack, the passing offense and overall scoring abilities of the Jets are low enough that they have great difficulty winning games.
On defense the Jets are 18th in points allowed, 3rd in overall yards allowed, 11th in passing defense, and 1st in rushing defense. The Jets are stubbornly holding onto the best average run defense, and few teams have found any success on the ground against Gang Green. Even the secondary is well above average in terms of mean yards surrendered, although the ragtag, thrown-together defensive back lineup makes that hard to believe. The offense cannot keep pace with that of their opponent, and the defense eventually gets gassed.
Chargers: The Chargers are 11th in points scored, 17th in overall yards, 5th in passing yards; and 31st in rushing yards. This does not bode well for the Jets, who have been ripped open by much less productive opponents. Before you panic, you should probably take into consideration that a lot of said production for the Chargers came against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. While the Chargers are a pretty terrible rushing team without Ryan Matthews, they really don't need to be good on the ground when they are this consistent through the air.
On defense the Chargers rank 5th in points allowed, 9th in yards allowed, 12th against the pass, and 9th against the run. The only silver inning here is that the Chargers secondary is potentially exploitable, even if a tough nut to crack. The lethargic Jets offense would have to step up in a manner uncharacteristic of the team such as against the Green Bay Packers, at least in the first half of that game anyway.
AP Pro Ranking has the Jets falling to 29th overall, and the Patriots
Attacking the Chargers
The Chargers greatest defensive weakness is against the pass, but even their secondary is relatively strong. Simply put, the Jets are going to have to overcome their offensive woes and beat the Chargers through the air. Another lethargic game like against the Detroit Lions last week could have people nationwide calling for Geno Smith to be benched.
The Chargers have had a pretty miserable time on the ground, and it seems unlikely they will reverse this trend against the New York Jets and their front seven. Even with Dee Milliner playing and a deeper secondary compared to weeks prior playing for the Jets, the Jets defensive line must consistently reach Philip Rivers in order to give the Jets a viable chance to win. It's hard to see the Jets beating San Diego in a shootout if Rivers has ample time to complete his passes.
The Jets desperately need another receiver to break out and claim the outside spot opposite Eric Decker. Whether Decker plays or not this afternoon, if a receiver doesn't demonstrate ability in place of the injured David Nelson (who has been pretty terrible himself), the Jets offense won't be able to hang with the aggressive passing of Rivers.
Greg Salas has shown at least limited ability to cut or break away from his opponent, especially when playing off coverage. Once he has the ball, Salas displays exciting moves and speed. The question remains whether Geno Smith can consistently and intentionally find Salas as a target downfield, and if Greg can get open with any consistency. On a personal level, I feel that Salas has a nicer upside compared to Nelson, who has been underwhelming for the Jets.
Chargers to Watch
Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, and Antonio Gates appear to be Rivers favorite targets through the first quarter of the season, although Malcolm Floyd is another red zone threat behind Royal and Gates. Allen is the Chargers leading receiver, but is still looking for his first receiving touchdown on the year. Donald Brown is trying to fill the shoes of Ryan Matthews, but hasn't been very productive as San Diego has relied heavily on the pass.
9 different Chargers have reached the QB for a sack this year, and 6 have caused fumbles. Eric Weddle and Brandon Flowers have interceptions for the Chargers.
Bro's Bottom Line
A very tough road game for the Jets to try and change their trajectory in. It seems likely the Chargers will win decisively, but they are suffering from many various ailments, including having seven linebackers on the injury report. This could be a pivotal game for Geno Smith, for better or worse. Fans are growing restless, and another lopsided game could destroy morale within and out of the locker room. An upset victory would give the Jets a much better chance at surviving the brutal first half of their 2014 season schedule.
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