It’s a Christmas Eve showdown between the tanking Jets and a Chargers team fresh off of a prime time beatdown handed to them by the Chiefs. We aren’t going to find out anything more than we already know about this Jets team but hey, it’s football and we only get 16 of these games a year. I take a look at how the teams matchup with one another.
Phillip Rivers is still out here playing good football. His interception rate this season is one of the lowest in his career at the young age of 36. He hasn’t changed much of his game, he’s still fiery and makes some very risky throws. He’s a sneaky smart quarterback but he also is too much of a gunslinger at times. Rivers makes dumb decisions that have cost his teams over the years. Rivers is a fun quarterback for 85% of seasons, he’ll keep your team in close games but when it comes to must win games he doesn’t particularly show up all the time.
Bryce Petty showed more of what we already knew against the Saints. He threw a couple of nice deep balls but couldn’t complete the short easy routes. His accuracy and mechanics will continue to plague him against a Chargers front seven that gets after the quarterback. I’m setting the over under for passes batted down at the line of scrimmage at 5.5.
Running Back: Chargers
Melvin Gordon’s skillset is special. He’s a strong runner and has turned into a better receiver over his first couple of years. Him and Austin Ekeler form a good duo in the backfield in both the rushing and receiving game. They can have success against a Jets linebacking core that has struggled to contain running backs in the passing game.
If Matt Forte receives carries today, it will be embarrassing. Bilal Powell should get a majority of the carries with Elijah McGuire backing him up. Put Forte in the slot if you’re going to use him. Both Powell and McGuire have the ability to stretch the field it’s just a matter of how well the offensive line holds up and if Petty can get them the ball.
Wide Receivers: Chargers
Keenan Allen will be playing after injuring his back against the Chiefs which doesn’t bode well for the Jets. He runs very good routes and is a target machine. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are guys that have the ability to take the top off of the Jets defense. The Jets secondary is going to have their hands full. Keeping things in front of them will be a must.
Robby Anderson with Bryce Petty and Robby Anderson with Josh McCown are two completely different players. With McCown, Anderson started to show his full skill set and potential. With Petty, every catch almost has to be a spectacular one. Him and Jermaine Kearse are visibly frustrated with how bad Petty is playing. Combine that with the secondary play of the Chargers and it will be tough sledding Sunday.
Tight End: Jets
Austin Seferian-Jenkins should have had a touchdown last week but Petty locked onto Robby Anderson on third down an goal. Give him routes downfield and let him be like Dustin Keller was to Mark Sanchez. Give Petty that security blanket with his big body and sure hands (unless it’s in the endzone and his hands are strong enough to completely limit the movement of the ball).
It’s looking like the Jets will be going up against the over the hill Antonio Gates and Jets #legend Jeff Cumberland. I feel very confident in saying that the Jets will have no issue containing those guys. All we need is Kellen Clemens to get some snaps and we’re in business.
Offensive Line: Chargers
The Chargers have given up the tied for least amount of sacks this season with 17. They’re tied with the Saints, who the Jets just played and who the Jets got absolutely 0 pressure on. However, they’re 13th in the NFL in least QB hits allowed. That usually means it’s Rivers getting rid of the ball before he’s sacked but still taking hits. When I do these, I look at the matchups. The Jets won’t be providing pressure and won’t be hitting Rivers. The Jets run defense is also poor so this could be a long game for the front seven.
The Jets offensive line has shown signs that they can be a good unit they just haven’t put it together yet. Brian Winters is out this week with an abdomen injury but he’s been underperforming so this gives a chance for a guy like Dakota Dozier more reps. Wesley Johnson has been a train wreck and shouldn’t be on the team (or any team) next season. For Christmas, they get Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Good. Luck.
Defensive Line: Chargers
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have been giving me nightmares all week. They’ve combined for 21.5 sacks this season. They are the most dangerous edge rushing duo in the league. Borderline unstoppable. Then you have Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget plugging up the middle. They’re going to get after Petty and they’re going to get after him often.
The Jets and us Jets fans only dream about having a Bosa or an Ingram but we have Leonard Williams and Kony Ealy. Two fine players but the pressures aren’t there. Xavier Cooper had a nice game filling in for Mo Wilkerson but one can’t expect much from him on a week to week basis. Steve McLendon has been a great addition in stopping the run however hasn’t been existent in the pass rush.
Darron Lee had some plays on Sunday that left you scratching your head or throwing your remote through the TV. But then he had some plays where he showed why he was a first round pick just a season ago. Demario Davis has gone from an eye roll of a pick up to being a tackling machine and the leader of this defense. I like this group going up against the Chargers front.
The Chargers run defense has struggled this season and they’re going to be missing arguably their best linebacker in Denzel Perryman. Hayes Pullard and Korey Toomer are going to have to step up in a big way. I think the Jets get the better of this matchup this week.
As a unit, they have 13 interceptions this season. They take chances and gamble on routes. Casey Hayward is an elite lock down corner and Trevor Williams as his counterpart have combined for six interceptions this season. They like to bait the quarterback into throws and jump the routes. With one read Petty back there, they might be in for a field day.
Morris Claiborne will have his hands full with Keenan Allen today and if the last few weeks are any indication, he won’t have a good day. Marcus Maye has been the Jets best defensive player this season but has had seen some lapses in coverage lately. Jamal Adams has to be careful because he’s turning into a guy that barks more than he bites. Both are excellent in the run game. Buster Skrine has quietly had the best month of any Jets defender as well.
Special Teams: Jets
Travis Benjamin has a punt return for a TD this season. The Jets do not. The Jets special teams unit always seems to let up a big return a game too. However, the Chargers have the worst kicking percentage in the league at 70.4. By comparison, the Jets are at 85.2. Get Lachlan Edwards in the Pro Bowl too while you’re at it.
Given how the Jets came out last week, I’ll give this to Bowles. The Jets had a good game plan going into last week and executed it well. They’re just very limited because of Bryce Petty. We’ll see how the Jets come out in their last home game of the year and how John Morton comes out against the Chargers.
Photo credit: nyjets.com