San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets, Week 7: 11 Players to Watch on Sunday
Now that the New York Jets have put an end to their three game losing streak and have exorcised some of their demons against the “Suck for Luck” Miami Dolphins, it is back to reality to face a real opponent in the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers, who have been a very solid statistical team for years now, but have always started slow, have been able to win four of their first five games before heading into their bye week at 4-1.
San Diego statistically ranks sixth overall in passing yards and ninth overall in rushing yards, making them a very balanced offense. Their rushing defense ranks 17th overall while their pass defense ranks ninth overall.
The Chargers did, however, record these numbers against the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. So, their rankings may be a little deceiving.
In San Diego’s 35-21 loss to the Pats, they allowed Tom Brady to rack up 423 passing yards with three touchdowns.
When the Chargers faced a legitimate running back in Adrian Peterson, they held him under 100 yards rushing, but barely. Peterson ended his game with 98 yards on 16 carries, averaging six yards per carry.
This should be an exciting game. The Chargers need this game to gain some legitimacy and to put some room between them and the fast-charging 4-2 Oakland Raiders. The Jets need this game to stay two games behind the AFC East leading Patriots, one behind the Buffalo Bills, and to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Here are 11 players to watch:
Mark Sanchez does not need to do a lot. Rex Ryan brought in the wrong weapons for him to take the next step. So, instead of opening it up and letting Sanchez let it fly, all Sanchez has to do is become the game manager.
Sanchez needs to hand off the ball and not turn it over. He has to have a clean game without any fumbles or interceptions and he has to make the occasional throw to get some first downs. Sanchez has to put some long, time consuming drives together to get the defense some rest.
Philip Rivers has put up some good numbers through his first five games. He has had three 300-plus yard passing games and is fourth in the league with a 67.2 completion percentage. His problem has been interceptions. Through five games, Rivers already has already thrown seven interceptions, and this was without facing an elite defense.
It will be interesting to see if he can keep the ball away from Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis and the rest of the Jets defense.
This was supposed to be Shonn Greene’s breakout season, the season where he was supposed to take over as the No. 1 running back. Well, it has not been working out too well. It is getting better though.
After starting off slow in the first three games where Greene rushed for 49 yards, 59 yards and 23 yards, he has put together two strong performances. Greene rushed for 83 yards and a TD against the Patriots and then 74 yards against the Dolphins.
It looks like Shonn is getting into his groove and he is hungry for his first 100 yard rushing game of the season.
Coming off a calf injury that has had Ryan Matthews limited at practice last week, it’s time to see if he’s all the way back.
Matthews has had a very strong season to date, already rushing for 413 yards, which is good enough to rank him 10th in the league among RBs.
In Matthews' last game before the bye, against the Denver Broncos, he rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries. We’ll see if he can build on his success and become that work horse back the Chargers lost when LaDainian Tomlinson left.
There should be a missing persons report out for Dustin Keller. In the first two games this season, Keller had 11 receptions for a total of 188 yards and a TD. In the next three games, he had six receptions for a total of a total of 70 yards and no TDs.
I do not know why Keller, a very productive tight end, has been phased out of the game plan almost completely.
Maybe the Jets will come to their senses and remember that Keller still plays for them and will be available on the field on Sunday.
In this corner, we have the challenger, out of San Diego, standing at 6’5”, and weighing in at 230 lbs. Wide Receiver, VINCENT JACKSON!
And in this corner, we have reigning champion, out of New York, standing at 5’11” and weighing in at 198 lbs. Cornerback, DARRELLE REVIS!
This should be another fun matchup to watch, that is if there is a matchup at all. Vincent Jackson has been limited in practice this week with nagging injuries and may not be 100 percent by Sunday.
This season, Jackson has had two 100-plus yard receiving games, one of them where he went off for 10 receptions for 172 yards with two TDs against the New England Patriots.
Coming into the game off a great defensive performance where he shut down Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall and recorded two interceptions, one he returned for a TD, Darrelle Revis will have his hands full again with an even bigger receiver in Vincent Jackson.
Holding the title as the best cornerback in the league, it’s always fun to see if Revis can shut down another elite receiver.
Malcolm Floyd, San Diego’s other 6’5” WR, must not be overlooked. He is a legitimate deep threat that can score quickly, as he showed in his last game when he had three catches for 100 yards and a TD.
Antonio Cromartie has been inconsistent this season. One minute he’s making a spectacular play, breaking up a pass, the next minute, he’s getting burned, like he was on Monday night by Brandon Marshall.
But, overall, Cromartie has played decently. He has three interceptions on the season and at 6’2” can cover the taller wideouts. He will probably be assigned Malcolm Floyd.
Cromartie should have extra motivation playing against the Chargers, as they traded him away to the Jets on bad terms.
Antonio Gates returned to practice for the first time in more than a month on Monday. If he is able to play against the Jets, he may be a factor in the game. The Jets have had trouble with skilled pass-catching tight ends in the past.
Although it was just garbage time against the Dolphins, Aaron Maybin had a sack, two QB hits and two forced fumbles. Maybin, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Buffalo Bills, who was labeled a bust and discarded to the Jets for basically nothing, is starting to show something.
In just three games and very limited playing time with the Jets, he has two sacks and three forced fumbles. If he gets on the field, he is worth keeping an eye on.