Here’s everything you need to know about this showdown between AFC underachievers.
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS, NFL Redzone or online at Game Rewind
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 93 or online at Audio Pass
Betting Line: Jets by 3, according to Odds Shark
What’s At Stake?
The Chargers and Jets have been eliminated from playoff contention. Norv Turner and Rex Ryan also may have already punched their tickets out of town.
Chargers Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Reggie Wells (ankle), G, Injured Reserve
Malcolm Floyd (ankle), WR, Injured Reserve
Ryan Mathews (shoulder), HB, Injured Reserve
Eddie Royal, WR, Questionable
Donald Butler, LB, Questionable
Ronnie Brown (hamstring), HB, Questionable
Jets Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Mark Sanchez (back), QB, Probable
Jeff Cumberland (wrist), TE, Probable
Braylon Edwards (hamstring), WR, Probable
Bilal Powell (toe), HB, Probable
Tim Tebow (ribs), QB, Probable
Fantasy Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em and Sleeper
Start: Chargers Defense
Anytime your defense gets matched up with a third-string QB, it’s like finding a $100 bill. Getting lucky enough to face the Jets’ third-string QB, however, is like discovering a goldmine.
Sanchez threw 17 interceptions this season and McElroy can’t be much better.
Sit: Philip Rivers
Remember when Rivers was an elite signal-caller?
I don’t know what happened, but he has become an interception machine himself, tossing 15 this season. Against the Jets’ second-ranked pass defense, he’s useless.
Sleeper: Shonn Greene
The McElroy-to-Jeremy Kerley connection won’t be able to move the football down the field. New York will need to lean on its running game, so Greene will get plenty of carries.
What They’re Saying
As one can imagine, Skip Bayless was quite emotional when it was announced McElroy would start over Tebow against the Chargers:
#FreeTebow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 18, 2012
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Rivers hasn’t been much better than the benched Jets QB:
Most games with Total QBR of 10 or lower this season- Mark Sanchez 5, Philip Rivers 3, Ryan Lindley 3.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 18, 2012
Chargers Player to Watch: Eric Weddle
Weddle is the leader of the Chargers defense. Through Week 15, he has recorded a team-high 82 tackles and three interceptions.
Against the inexperienced McElroy, he’s guaranteed to have a field day.
Jets Player to Watch: Greg McElroy
In 2012, McElroy has a passer rating of 118.5. Sure, he’s only attempted seven passes, but still.
And who knows? Maybe the former Alabama passer is capable of being a respectable QB.
Or maybe the Chargers will eat him alive. Either or.
Key Matchup: D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Shaun Phillips
Phillips remains San Diego’s most fierce pass-rusher, as he leads the team in sacks this season with seven. It’ll be Ferguson’s job to protect McElroy’s blind side and prevent Phillips from coming off the edge hard and putting hits on the quarterback.
Because if the Jets were forced to actually play Tebow in the role of a starter, Ryan’s head may implode. And on that note…
On the Hot Seat: Norv Turner and Rex Ryan
Ryan is a defensive mastermind, but he definitely isn’t a genius when it comes to player personnel. He OK’d the Tebow trade and, instead of playing him, sat him on the bench and the story shadowed the team throughout the entire season.
And following Super Bowl expectations with a six-to-eight win season doesn’t cut it—especially with New York’s media.
In San Diego, Turner should be long gone by now. A.J. Smith is clueless—that’s the only reason he still has a job there.
Rivers is too fiery a competitor to lay down, even with nothing to play for. And no matter how many interceptions he’s thrown, I’m not picking a third-string quarterback against Rivers, regardless of its team.
But it’s not like the Jets would cause me to rethink that anyway.
San Diego by 3
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.