When the Chargers head to New York in Week 16, we should probably expect the unexpected. Taking a look around the NFL these days, it's tough to find two teams that have more question marks than the Jets and Chargers.
Despite having talent on both sides of the ball, they've experienced disappointing seasons in 2012. Both are now out of the playoff chase, with a higher slot at the upcoming draft the only real reward left on the schedule. Their coaching staffs are facing scrutiny from the fans and media, and there's a decent chance both teams have a new starting quarterback this time next year.
Meet the Jets
After doing everything in his power to stick with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, coach Rex Ryan has finally had enough. Ryan named little-used backup Greg McElroy as his starter earlier in the week, which made news primarily because McElroy isn't Tim Tebow. The fans in New York had been clamoring for Tebow to get the start, but that won't be the case this Sunday.
Outside of the quarterback controversy, the Jets don't have much in the way of offensive firepower. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell form a nice running back duo, although opposing defenses have been stacking the box in recent weeks. No wide receiver has more than three touchdown receptions this season, although Jeremy Kerley is having a solid campaign with 53 receptions, 739 yards and two scores.
Defensively, the Jets rank second in the league against the pass, although they've been torched on the ground, giving up nearly 139 yards a game.
Meet the Chargers
Very little has gone right for San Diego this season, and they've had a couple of winnable games slip through their hands. For seemingly the 147th* year in a row, head coach Norv Turner is on the hot seat. Some reports have indicated he has already lost his job, although others say no final decision has been made.
The Chargers, who come into Sunday with a 5-9 record, typically struggle to move the ball. Philip Rivers has San Diego's passing attack ranked 22nd in the league, and given the injuries to tailback Ryan Mathews, the Chargers are averaging just 93 yards a game on the ground.
Defensively, injuries and inexperience have been an issue all season long. They are coming off a game in which they gave up 31 points to Cam Newton and the Panthers at home. San Diego ranks 20th against the pass and seventh against the run.
Local Takes: Jets
Despite the Jets struggles in recent weeks, Bro Namath of Gang Green Nation is excited to see what McElroy can do.
Is it weird to be excited about a game where your team is eliminated? I want to see what Greg McElroy can do with a golden opportunity, even if I have tempered expectations of a third string quarterback. I want to see how the team responds and if they rally behind a new leader like what appeared to happen against Arizona. And you know what? Worse case scenario we lose and the message to Woody Johnson grows louder and louder. I don't see a downside in this game now that the worst is over.
Local Takes: Chargers
John Gennaro of Bolts From The Blue isn't as optimistic about San Diego's chances due to shortcomings on offense.
San Diego's offensive line is in a shambles after a string of injuries. That probably won't help it's running game, which is in a shambles after a string of injuries. I guess the burden then falls on the receivers, where the #1 target was sitting on his couch in the middle of the season and nobody knows who the #2 WR will be (because Malcom Floyd is on IR).
Follow the Fun
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Cromartie was voted #JetsTeamMVP by teammates— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) December 21, 2012
Want to know the difference between college and NFL for coaches? College players want to win. NFL players want to be taken care of.— Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) December 21, 2012
More Jets coverage: @MMehtaNYDN
Rex Ryan didn't reveal his No 2 QB for Sunday, but I'm told it is expected to be Mark Sanchez. #nyj— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) December 21, 2012
More Chargers coverage: @UTkrasovic
Following up on earlier Tweet, Weddle and Scifres were only #Chargers mentioned by Norv as Pro Bowl-worthy.— Tom Krasovic (@UTkrasovic) December 20, 2012
Two teams out of playoff contention, yet this is probably going to be a game you see talked about on ESPN more than many others. That's because Mark Sanchez has been benched and Greg McElroy, not Tim Tebow, is starting on Sunday. The rumor mill now says Tebow wants a trade. Actual news about Tebow means people have a legitimate reason to talk about him. Unlike almost every other time he's mentioned. The circus is always entertaining, and McElroy will not disappoint.
The pick: 17-16, Jets
The Jets are slight favorites in this one, with the lines ranging from one point to three points on Odds Shark. The over-under for points is down to 37 1/2 on most books.