NFL Nation: Jets-Chargers Quick Take

Quick Take: Jets at Chargers

January, 10, 2010
1/10/10
5:34
PM ET
Three things to know about next Sunday's divisional playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium:

1. The Jets match up well in critical areas. The Jets might've preferred facing the Indianapolis Colts next weekend. The Jets already have beaten a version of the Colts, wouldn't have had to travel across the continent and would be facing a team that hadn't won in four weeks. But a look at the Chargers' statistical rankings shows promise if you're a Jets fan. The Cincinnati Bengals trampled the Jets with 171 rushing yards, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. The Chargers, however, ranked 31st in rushing offense and averaged 3.3 yards a carry. Philip Rivers conducts a scary pass offense, ranking fifth in yards and third in passer rating. But the Jets had the NFL's best pass defense. The Jets also led the NFL in rushing yardage, while the Chargers ranked 20th in rush defense.

2. Mark Sanchez needs to maintain his composure. This is as close as Sanchez will get to a homecoming game until the NFL returns to Los Angeles. The Long Beach, Calif., native and USC grad will return to Southern California at a time when he's playing his best. Sanchez has learned to come along for the ride rather than try to be the star. That transformation has paid substantial dividends for the Jets. Sanchez hasn't thrown an interception in his past three games, and the Jets have won them all. In becoming only the second rookie in NFL history to win a playoff game on the road, he threw three incomplete passes (Braylon Edwards dropped a touchdown) and had a 139.5 passer rating thanks to yards after the catch. Sanchez has integrated himself into the offense and isn't trying to run it anymore.

3. The game could hinge on how the Jets defend Antonio Gates. AFC East teams employ some mediocre tight ends. The Jets haven't really been forced to defend against many great ones. They faced Dallas Clark in Week 16. Clark had four receptions for 57 yards while working a short shift. In Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Jets mostly contained Tony Gonzalez, holding him to three catches for 32 yards. But they let Gonzalez make the game-winning touchdown catch on fourth-and-goal with 98 seconds left. Gates is Rivers' best target with 79 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Vertical receiver Vincent Jackson has more yards and one more touchdown, but he'll be guarded by lockdown cornerback Darrelle Revis. The one to worry about will be Gates.

Quick Take: Jets at Chargers

January, 10, 2010
1/10/10
5:33
PM ET
Three things to know about next Sunday's divisional playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium:

1. Ryan-Turner Bowl: In 2007, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith choose Norv Turner over Rex Ryan to replace Marty Schottenheimer as head coach. Many league observers criticized Smith for the choice. It is difficult to argue that Smith made the wrong choice. Turner has led San Diego to a 13-3 record and he is a legitimate NFL coach of the year candidate. Expect Ryan, a defensive guru, and Turner, an offensive expert, to take different approaches this week. It wouldn’t be a shock if the brash Ryan makes some proclamations this week, as he has been known to do in his short Jets tenure. There is virtually no chance even-keeled Turner will make any controversial comments as he prepares to face the man who he was chosen over.

2. Chargers need to stop the run: If there is a way to beat San Diego, which has won an NFL-high 11 straight games, it is on the ground. San Diego was attacked on the ground in several games this season. San Diego finished the season 20th in the NFL in run defense. It allowed 117.8 rushing yards per game. New York will be ready to run at San Diego. The Jets had the No. 1 rush offense in the NFL during the regular season. New York averaged 172.2 yards a game (4.5 yards per carry). If the Jets can continue their ground success, they will stay in this game, eating up clock and keeping San Diego’s potent offense off the field.

3. Chargers will challenge Revis: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is entering this game as perhaps the most-dangerous defensive player in the postseason. He is a proven shutdown cornerback. However, expect San Diego to have answers. If Revis sticks on No. 1 San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson all game, the Chargers will just go to other options. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has done a brilliant job of spreading the ball around his talented offense. If Revis locks down Jackson, Rivers will rely on tight end Antonio Gates, receivers Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee and running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. Revis will make his presence felt, but the Chargers will find a way to move the ball through the air.

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