Maybe Jets shouldn't worry about Rivers

Common sense would dictate the New York Jets' prime directive Sunday against the San Diego Chargers would be to neutralize quarterback Philip Rivers.

George Bretherton of "The Fifth Down" blog at NYTimes.com presents an intriguing rebuttal.

An examination of the Chargers' four losses shows Rivers posted terrific stats anyway. The difference, Bretherton notes, was that the Chargers' run game was utterly shut down. They averaged 39.3 yards in their last four losses (including last year in the playoffs) and 2.6 yards a carry. That was despite the Chargers taking an early lead in three of those games.

Bretherton's piece wondered if Jets coach Rex Ryan will follow that defensive blueprint by simply removing LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles from the equation and daring Rivers to do it himself.

The Jets own the No. 1 pass defense. Left cornerback Darrelle Revis gets most of the attention, but their other defensive backs have been valuable. The Jets yielded only eight passing touchdowns all season. No other team allowed fewer than 14.

The Jets allowed an average of 153.7 yards a game. Closest in pass defense were the Buffalo Bills, whose numbers were skewed because opponents trampled them on the ground and they still allowed 30 more passing yards a game than the Jets did. The Green Bay Packers were the closest playoff team at 201.1 passing yards per game.

San Diego had the fifth-ranked pass offense at 271.1 yards per game. Their 29 touchdown passes were tied for fifth. Rivers had a 104.4 passer rating, third to Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.