Rested Chargers meet high-flying Jets

By: Stephen Nover | Saturday, January 16, 2010

Philip Rivers and the Bolts enter Sunday's contest with an 11-game win streak.

The New York Jets proved they could stop Carson Palmer and Cincinnati’s pedestrian offense last week.

Now, though, the playoff stakes are increased for the Jets as they travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers in the late Sunday game. The Chargers currently are minus seven with an ‘over/under’ of 42.

New York has covered seven of the past nine times it has been an underdog, including beating the Bengals, 24-14, as 2 ½-point road underdogs. The combined 38 points went ‘over/ the closing total of 34.

The Jets figure to have it much tougher versus the Chargers, winners of 13 of 16 games, and their high-powered offense.

San Diego is the hottest team in football having won 11 in a row. The Chargers have had two weeks to rest and prepare. They are 21-7 ATS in their last 28 games as a home favorite of between 3 ½ and 10 points.

The Chargers are gunning to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 seasons. In the last 19 seasons, 14 Super Bowl winners had a bye in the first round of the postseason.

Philip Rivers gives the Chargers a huge edge at quarterback. Rivers ranked third with a 104.4 passer rating, completing 65.2 percent of his throws while throwing for 4,254 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Sparked by Rivers, the Chargers averaged an AFC-best 28.4 points per game.

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez had his finest game this past Saturday. Picking his spots well, Sanchez completed 12 of 15 passes against the Bengals for 182 yards and a touchdown.

Sanchez was intercepted 20 times during the regular season, but has been turnover-free during the past three weeks.

New York, 10-7, will be in trouble, though, if it needs Sanchez to pull the game out. The Jets heavily rely on the league’s top rushing attack. They threw the fewest passes of any team.

New York averaged 172.2 yards on the ground. Thomas Jones ran for 1,402 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, but it was rookie Shonn Greene who burned Cincinnati for 135 yards rushing. The Jets’ offensive line features four first-round draft picks.

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San Diego ranks 20th in run defense, but the Chargers have improved their rush defense. If you count just the final 10 games, San Diego would have finished 10th in run defense.

The Chargers limited the Jets to 41 yards rushing in a 49-29 home win on Sept. 22, 2008 when the teams last met. The Jets were nine-point underdogs. The combined 78 points sailed ‘over’ the 46-point closing total.

San Diego’s Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer gave up the fifth-fewest yards of any cornerback duo that started a combined 28 games or more. The Chargers finished 11th in pass defense, their highest ranking since 1998. Just two years ago, the Chargers finished 31st in pass defense.

However, San Diego posted an NFL-low 3.3 yards per rush. LaDainian Tomlinson finished with less than 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his seven-year NFL career.

The Jets have the NFL’s No. 1 defense rating first in total defense allowing 252.3 yards per game and are first in scoring defense surrendering only 14.8 points per contest.

Each of San Diego’s previous three playoff losses have been against teams that were ranked in the top five in scoring defense. The Chargers are 1-1 versus those opponents this season.

The ‘over’ has cashed in New York’s last three games. Prior to that, New York had gone ‘under’ four consecutive times. The ‘over’ is 6-1-1 in the Jets’ last eight games versus AFC opponents.

The ‘over’ has cashed in five of San Diego’s last six games, including the past three.

Sunday's contest from Qualcomm Stadium will be telecast by CBS starting at 1:40 p.m. (PT)

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