Having righted the ship with a 24-6 win on Monday night, the Jets are now looking to head into the bye week on an upbeat note. The 4-1 Chargers come racing into MetLife Stadium filled with confidence. A look at three things to watch on Sunday:
1. The Third-Down Battle
We may not be referring to the third-down battle you’d expect, with the Jets’ offense receiving criticism for their play on third down. Instead, the Chargers’ offense has the best third down percentage in the league, an astonishing 56 percent of every attempt. They face a Jets defense that allows opponents to convert third downs just 28.6 percent of the time. Something has to give.
The Jets must be wary of San Diego’s short passing game. The Chargers have been utilizing their running backs more without tight end Antonio Gates. The vertical passing game is helping San Diego sustain drives and could be a key match-up problem for the Jets, forcing their linebackers into coverage.
2. Cro, L.T. Face Old Teams
Following a tough season opener against Dallas where he got torched by Dez Bryant, cornerback Antonio Cromartie responded with two interceptions and two big special teams returns en route to AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Now playing the team that traded him last year to New York, will Cromartie again respond by playing with a chip on his shoulder?
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It will be an emotional game for LaDainian Tomlinson as well, as the future Hall of Famer got most of his gaudy stats while in San Diego.
“Obviously, what he has accomplished in his career speaks for itself,” said Chargers head coach Norv Turner. “I think he is having great success with the Jets. He’s contributing to what they’re doing on offense.”
3. Home Cooking
In head coach Rex Ryan’s first two years with the team, the Jets have been a combined 9-7 at home, a depressingly low stat. But this year they have a 3-0 record at MetLife Stadium, backing up the team’s talk since training camp about making gains playing at home.
“That was something that we wanted to pride ourselves on, is taking advantage of these games at home. You don’t have to travel. Knowing our routine, knowing your hotel room, knowing what time to get to the stadium and stuff like that,” quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “That’s important and it really does help. Our guys have taken that seriously. We take pride in playing at home and we want to play well.”
Being 4-0 at home after Sunday and heading into the bye week would certainly put things in a much better light for the Jets after their early season struggles.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.