Playoff breakdown: Jets-Chargers
Sanchez did more than not lose the game for the Jets last week at Cincinnati, he helped the guys in green and white win it, posting a 139.4 passer rating that was the best ever turned in by a rookie quarterback in the playoffs (with a minimum of 14 attempts). Sanchez this week will try to join Baltimore's
With lead back
Revis picked off a
In the regular season, Jackson led the Chargers in receiving yardage with 1,167, and he's even better in the playoffs, with a 17.8-yard average catch on 22 career postseason receptions. Eighteen of those grabs have produced first downs for San Diego. Jackson is a big (6-5, 230), athletic receiver who can go up and get it if Rivers puts it anywhere in his zip code. As well as Revis has blanketed the best receivers in the game this season, Jackson will provide him with his toughest challenge yet.
Much has been made of the Chargers allowing 4.5 yards per rush this season -- tied for the worst among the 12 playoff teams -- and how the Jets might exploit that weakness to hog the ball all day and play keep-away from Rivers and a high-powered San Diego offense that has scored at least 20 points in every game this season. But the worst of the damage the Chargers allowed on the ground came in the season's first half, when they were struggling with injuries to the likes of nose tackle
"Statistically you see that over the last 10 games it's a total difference,'' Chargers head coach
San Diego isn't going to beat New York running the ball (the Chargers are 31st in rushing, 88.9 yards per game), so it'll be up to Rivers and his receivers to move the chains and maximize their scoring opportunities. Getting some pass protection and time to throw downfield to receivers Jackson,
"We had to throw out a lot of stuff we like to do as far as our designer blitzes, because they have viable options at all five (receiving) positions on third downs. There are people you have to account for at receiver, tight end and out of the backfield. In the past, you really could just key on tight end Antonio Gates and take your chances with everyone else. But Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd are very good receivers. They're play-makers. Jackson is starting to get some attention, but Floyd can really stretch the field on you, and he can really run. And then there's
Don't think for a minute that 13-3, second-seeded San Diego lucked out by drawing the 10-7 Jets. New York has won four consecutive games on the road and isn't intimidated by anyone, thanks mostly to the don't-back-down style of its first-year head coach. The Chargers proved they won't panic or wilt with those tough second-half wins at the Giants and Cowboys, and despite winning 11 in a row, it hasn't been all easy street for Norv Turner's club. Four of San Diego's final five wins were by seven points or fewer. The Chargers have matured as a playoff club and should prevail with the help of the home crowd. But I think it's going to be an all-day battle, and don't be surprised if the Jets are protecting a lead for a good bit of the game.