WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL
San Diego, which leads the league in time of possession (35:17 per game), has won three of its past four trips to the Jets’ home facility and seeks its fourth straight win in 2011. In his only regular-season meeting with New York, which took place in 2008, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 19-of-25 passes for 250 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a 130.0 passer rating. Since 2010, Rivers leads the AFC with 6,246 passing yards and aims for a 60th career win as a starting quarterback (59-26). Running back Ryan Mathews had a career-best 125 rushing yards in the Chargers’ Week 4 win at Denver and is averaging 101.3 yards per game on the ground in his past three contests. Gates had eight catches for 132 yards in his last game at New York and needs five catches to surpass Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow (541) for second-most in team history, behind only Charlie Joiner (586). Wide receiver Vincent Jackson had seven receptions for 111 yards against the Jets in the AFC Divisional Playoff loss in January of 2010.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis tied his career-high with two interceptions in the team’s 24-6 win at Miami on Monday, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown. Selected No. 19 overall by the Chargers in the 2006 NFL Draft, cornerback Antonio Cromartie spent four seasons with San Diego (2006-09) before joining the Jets last year. Defensive end Mike DeVito leads the front line with 19 tackles and has a sack, while linebacker Bart Scott has 33 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks.
San Diego is 13th in the league in scoring with an average of 24 points per game, sixth in both total yards (416.2 ypg) and passing yards (293.4 ypg) and ninth in rushing (122.8 ypg). Defensively, the Jets are 11th in both points (21.8 ppg) and total yards allowed (332.8 ypg), fifth against the pass (200.8 ypg) and 28th against the rush (132.0 ypg).
WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL
Dating back to January, the Jets seek a fifth consecutive win at home. At MetLife Stadium in 2011, quarterback Mark Sanchez has completed 57-of-93 passes for 718 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions for an 89.8 passer rating. Running back Shonn Greene had 128 rush yards on 23 attempts with a touchdown in the AFC Divisional Playoff at San Diego in 2010, while backfield mate LaDainian Tomlinson spent nine seasons (2001-09) with San Diego and rushed for 12,490 yards with 138 touchdowns over that span. Tomlinson needs one catch to become the fourth running back in NFL history with 600 receptions, joining Larry Centers (827), Marshall Faulk (767) and Keith Byars (610). Wide receiver Santonio Holmes aims for a third consecutive game with a touchdown, while tight end Dustin Keller has a touchdown catch in each of the Jets’ last two meetings with San Diego (including the playoffs). Kick returner Joe McKnight leads the NFL with a 44.1-yard average.
Including the postseason, Chargers linebacker Shawn Phillips has 3 1/2 sacks in his past four games against the Jets. Third-year defensive end Vaughn Martin has 13 tackles to add the front line, while safety Eric Weddle has 28 tackles and two interceptions on the year.
New York offensively is 11th in scoring (24.2 points per game) and in the lower tier in all other categories, averaging 297.2 total yards (29th), 216.3 passing yards (23rd) and just 80.8 rushing yards (31st) per game. On defense, San Diego is 10th in points allowed (21.8 ppg), fourth in total defense (293.2 ypg), second in pass defense (179.6 ypg) and 17th against the run (113.6 ypg).
KEYS TO THE GAME
Rivers and Jackson against Revis figures to be an interesting top-shelf matchup, especially after the Jets cornerback’s two interceptions on Monday night against Miami.
Expect Tomlinson and Cromartie, who played their last games for the Chargers in the playoff loss to New York two seasons ago, to be a little motivated upon exiting the tunnel.
San Diego has struggled mightily on special teams over the years and will face a red-hot return man in New York’s McKnight, who could make a difference in a close game.
Prediction – The Jets got back on track with a win over the Dolphins Monday night, but can’t afford a letdown this week against a better Chargers team. San Diego coach Norv Turner and Jets coach Rex Ryan are now waging war on the podiums, and it could make this a feisty affair. San Diego will try to run past the Jets with Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, while the Jets will look to get a few deep throws to try and counter with big plays. Tough one to call, but the Jets at home have the slight edge. New York Jets 20 San Diego 14