- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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A funny thing has happened in the past day -– the title of "hottest team in the NFL" has swapped sidelines in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game between the host San Diego Chargers and the New York Jets.
The Jets have become postseason sweethearts. Since this matchup was made Sunday, I’ve heard about how well the Jets are playing and how they may be a team to watch to end up in the Super Bowl.
So here’s my question: What about the Chargers?
Sure, the Jets are nice, but no NFL team is playing better than San Diego. It hasn’t lost since Oct. 19. That’s nearly three months, folks. The Jets haven’t lost in three weeks.
Just because coach Rex Ryan is brash and confident enough to say the Jets should be favored to win the Super Bowl, we don’t have to believe him. We don’t have to believe the Chargers should be the underdog Sunday.
Good for Ryan for backing his team. But the Jets are not world beaters here, folks. They were 9-7 and didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the season. Sure, they run the ball very well and they play good defense. Those are two pretty good areas to be strong in.
Yes, they are hot, but the Chargers are hotter.
San Diego has won 11 straight games. No team is more dangerous than San Diego heading into the postseason. The Chargers are clicking in all three phases and they have been for months.
The Jets became a sexy pick because of their last three-game stretch. Let’s look at that stretch a little more:
New York beat the Colts in Week 16 after the Colts suddenly pulled the plug on being competitive. The Jets hammered the Colts’ backups in the second half. Then in, Week 17, the Jets crushed Cincinnati when the Bengals were playing with nothing on the line and with backup closing out the game.
In the wild-card round, the Jets handled the Bengals’ starters in a 24-14 win. Yes, it was impressive. But let’s face it, the Bengals were shot. Including Saturday’s game, Cincinnati lost four of its final five games.
This is not meant to poke holes into the Jets. They have some nice pieces, but they are not the team to beat Sunday.
It’s the host Chargers. You know, the team on the real hot streak.
1dEric D. Williams