The reasons for vengeance are numerous. The indignity of two embarrassing home playoff losses that ended the Chargers’ seasons in 2004 and 2009 cannot be forgotten. The insolent smack-talk from the Jets' literally larger-than-life head coach, Rex Ryan cannot be forgiven, either.
If that weren’t enough, a win versus one of the NFL’s little darlings in their house would go a long way to squelching the Bolts’ detractors, who continue to spout on about how they haven’t beaten any quality teams this year. The Jets may not have yet hit their stride, but they are clearly no push-overs and will be expecting to trounce their favorite patsy in the Chargers.
It can’t be overstated how this game will have the pressure and intensity of a playoff matchup.
Both teams have something to prove. As has already been alluded to, the Chargers want to show they can win a game on the road against another playoff-caliber team. It would be especially sweet to demonstrate that ability against their playoff nemesis, the Jets.
New York wants to re-establish themselves as the elite Super Bowl-bound team Ryan is always babbling on about.
Earlier in the season, I would not have given the Chargers much of a chance in this game, but oh, how times have changed.
It’s true that the combined record of the teams the Chargers have beaten is a mere 4-17, but the Jets are no better. The teams they have defeated are only 3-13. The Chargers boast the sixth-best offense in the league, while the Jets are ranked No. 29.
San Diego has the No. 4 ranked defense while New York is ranked No. 11. Statistically, even on the road, you would have to give the nod to the Chargers.
Additionally, the Jets are coming off a short week, having hosted the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, while San Diego is coming off their bye week. The extra rest couldn’t have come at a better time for a Chargers team rife with key injuries.
That’s right, Bolts’ fans—you can expect to see Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert and even Antonio Gates this week. It remains to be seen how effective Gates will be or even how long he will be in the game. The Jets have no answer for a healthy Gates, and if he can perform anything close to “usual,” the Chargers will take the game. I guarantee it.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will negate Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. I wouldn’t expect timid play-caller Norv Turner to target Jackson as long as Revis is anywhere near him. That means Malcom Floyd, Gates and the running backs will need to be on their game.
Turner could surprise everyone by lining Jackson up in unusual positions and try to isolate him with another defender, but that is probably asking too much from a coach of Turner’s limited foresight.
Philip Rivers has thrown more interceptions (7) this year than touchdown passes (6).
Knowing that Turner will game-plan with this in mind, I expect to see the Chargers open the game with a predictable run by Mathews up the middle—repeating something they have done in every single game so far this season.
That is not exactly a bad idea, though, as the Jets have been unusually abysmal stopping the run this year. Staying away from interceptions and successfully pounding the ball against a suspect run defense is the key to a San Diego victory.
It’s interesting to note just how many Jets are former Chargers. It’s almost the case of the Chargers taking on the "Re-Chargers."
LaDainian Tomlinson will get his first chance to play against the team he established his Hall-of-Fame career with. Defensive backs Antonio Cromartie and Donald Strickland are former Chargers players as well.
Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was the Chargers quarterback coach under his father, Marty, from 2002-2005. The Jets have been consistent in picking up Chargers cast-offs.
I believe the Bolts will play their best game of the season and break the 30-point threshold for the first time. Mathews will prove the Bolts were right in letting LT go by out-rushing him by a 3-1 margin. Rivers will throw more touchdown passes than interceptions, and the Bolts will win 31-24.
The Jets are favored by two and the line is set at 44 points. I believe the Chargers will win outright, so take the Chargers and those two paltry points and go heavy on the over as well.
For those keeping score, the Charges covered against the Denver Broncos two weeks ago and the total score was over by seven. I predicted the Broncos and the under, so that’s another 0-2 week for me, dropping my season record down to 2-8 overall.
It must be said that going with the opposite of my predictions looks to be a reliable winning bet.