Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bring on the Chargers

A lot of people predicted New England's demise this season, but this was still pretty stunning. Four Tom Brady turnovers led to a Baltimore Raven 33-14 win over the Patriots. Their win means they will be heading to face #1 seeded Indianapolis while the New York Jets will head to San Diego to face the Chargers.

Baltimore wants to do what the Jets are doing: run the football, hide the football, and play great defense. That formula worked great against New England, but Indianapolis will be a whole different animal, just as San Diego will be for the Jets.

As for the Jets, they are now the lone AFC East representative in the playoffs, but they will have to face the streaking Chargers, a team many penned as the favorite to win it all. Norv Turner's team has won 11 in a row to finish 13-3, primarily because of Philip Rivers and a quick strike offense.

Rex Ryan will have a tough time figuring out how to get pressure on Philip Rivers while protecting against the deep ball to 6'4" and above targets Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and Malcom Floyd. Jackson will see a lot of Revis, but Gates will be a tough matchup for this defense. And with Ryan's propensity to blitz, a one-on-one matchup against any of these tall receivers is not favorable.

However, the Chargers do have vulnerabilities. First of all, they can't run the ball: LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles have struggled to find holes all season long. Both, especially Sproles, are dangerous receivers coming out of the backfield though, so the Jets must keep an eye on him.

But the problem the Jets will most target is the Chargers' 20th ranked run defense. San Diego allows 4.5 yards-per-carry on the ground, so the Jets will pound away and try to bust open some big plays with Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones.

Make no mistake, the Jets have the advantage in the trenches on both sides of the football. The question will be whether the Jets can post touchdowns instead of field goals and whether they can prevent too many deep balls from Rivers to his playmakers.

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