AFC West Final Word: Jets at Chargers

January, 15, 2010
1/15/10
1:03
PM ET
AFC: Jets-Chargers: Graham | Williamson Colts-Ravens: Kuharsky | Walker
NFC: Cowboys-Vikings: Mosley | Seifert Saints-Cardinals: Yasinskas | Sando

Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's playoff game between the New York Jets (10-7) and San Diego Chargers (13-3):

[+] EnlargeNate Kaeding
Tim Umphrey/Getty ImagesNate Kaeding has made at least 87 percent of his field goals since the 2005 season.
1. Kaeding has been redeemed: In the final game of his rookie season, in Jan. 2005, Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal that would have given the Chargers a playoff win over the Jets. New York ended up winning. Will that kick be on Kaeding’s mind Sunday? It shouldn’t. He has been fantastic since that kick. Since that game, Kaeding is 31 of 32 from 40 yards or less in the fourth quarter or in overtime, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has made 29 straight field goals in that situation.

2. Will Rivers get enough protection to go deep? Much has been made about the Jets’ ability to run the ball and play defense. But the Chargers have a special ability as well -- to score very quickly. Nobody throws a prettier deep ball than Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. All season, San Diego has been going deep with great success. Still, when chatting with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. this week, he told me the Jets may have an answer. Williamson said the Jets have a very fast pass rush and he is not sure if Rivers will have the time to go deep. Add a potential rainy day and the Chargers’ best feature could be challenged.

3. Chargers hope to make it an unhappy homecoming for Sanchez: The Chargers can’t wait to try to ruin Mark Sanchez's trip home to Southern California. Sanchez grew up just up the road from Qualcomm Stadium and he went to USC. He’ll have plenty of support in the stands. The Chargers are hoping his fans see Sanchez drop back often. If the Chargers can control New York’s run game and force Sanchez into throwing more than the Jets’ game plan calls for, San Diego will have the rookie where it wants him. New York has failed when Sanchez has had to throw too much this year and that’s what San Diego is aiming to make him do.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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