This Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup between the Jets and Chargers will showcase a best of both world’s kind of game. The Jets boast the leading rushing attack in the NFL and the Chargers rank 5th in in passing. Neither team is very balanced, with the Chargers ranking 31st in the league running the ball and the Jets 31st in the league in passing the ball. Add in the East Coast vs. West Coast element and these two teams are the perfect bizarro world versions of each other.
It’s no secret the Jets are going to try and run the ball down the Chargers’ throat all day long, as they should. Sunday is not the time for the Jets to come out and attempt to be something they are not, which is an air-it-out passing team. It also doesn’t hurt that the Chargers are not as potent on defense as they are on offense, allowing nearly 118 yards per game on the ground. This matchup creates a perfect storm for the Jets, who by running the ball all day long, can keep Phillip Rivers planted on the sidelines. The last thing the Jets want to do is get into a shootout with Phillip Rivers because they are simply not built for that kind of game. By establishing the running game early on, it will enable the Jets passing game to open up. You can expect to see the Chargers stacking the box throughout the game to stuff the run. Stopping the Jets ground game will not be an easy task for a defense that will be without mammouth run stuffing NT Jammal Williams, who sufferred a season ending elbow injury in Week 1.
The Jets gameplan should be almost a carbon copy of what they did against the Bengals; use the running game to open up the pass and keep the opposing defense honest with play actions and bootlegs. Mark Sanchez may have a tough time beating the talented Chargers secondary by conventional means and thus must resort to a smoke and mirrors approach.
Despite his improved play and heightened level of swagger, Sanchez will have to be a game manager against San Diego and take less chances downfield. If the Jets lose the turnover battle not only will it rattle Sanchez, but you can rest assured Phillip Rivers will make the Jets pay for their mistakes.
Rookie stud, Shonn Greene, turned heads and raised eyebrows last week in Cincy and now has the attention of the Chargers defense. It should be interesting to see how Rex Ryan splits the carries this Sunday, as Greene clearly outplayed Thomas Jones and took over the lead back duties as the game progressed. Both Greene and Jones are physical running backs who can wear down the Chargers defense, but if Greene is to get increased carries, he must protect the football, something he has had trouble with this season.
Not too many “experts” are giving the Jets a chance to pull out a victory here, but if they run the ball like they did last week and contain Rivers, the Jets could find potentially find themselves hosting the AFC Championship next week, pending a Ravens victory over the Colts.