Breaking down the San Diego-New York Jets matchup in the AFC divisional playoffs:
This game pits San Diego's outstanding pass offense and New York's smothering pass defense. A matchup to watch is Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis on 6-foot-5 Vincent Jackson, who's six inches taller. But Jackson is quick to say that height differential between receivers and defensive backs is often an exaggerated edge. He says he can count on one hand the number of jump-ball fades the Chargers have thrown in recent years, passes that can take advantage of those size mismatches.
The Jets are still upset about what they consider a snub: Charles Woodson winning defensive player of the year over Revis. The size difference shouldn't make a big difference for Revis, considering the job he did this season on such big men as Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.
Rivers is flowing
Philip Rivers is consistently good, but he's been especially hot in recent weeks. He was the AFC's offensive player of the month for December (and a few days of January), completing 93 of 137 passes for 1,316 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions over that five-game span.
The Chargers are 18-0 in December since 2006, and they've scored 20 or more points in 22 consecutive games (including playoffs), the league's longest active streak.
Chargers running back Darren Sproles, who also returns kicks, needs just 51 all-purpose yards to reach 1,000 in six playoff games. No player in NFL history has hit that milestone so quickly. Sproles has 949 all-purpose yards in five career playoff games. The fewest postseason games to reach 1,000 all-purpose yards: PlayerGamesMarcus Allen7Terrell Davis7Thurman Thomas8Emmitt Smith8Nice one, rook!
If the Jets were to win, Mark Sanchez would become the second first-year quarterback to win his first two postseason games (only Baltimore's Joe Flacco has done that), and RexRyan would be the sixth rookie coach to do the same.
The rookie head coaches to win at least their first two playoff games: YearCoachTeamWins1970Don McCaffertyColts31989George Seifert49ers31977Red Miller Broncos22002Bill Callahan Raiders22008John Harbaugh Ravens2Floating the idea
Would you believe the Jets have already planned their Super Bowl parade? Well, they might not have worked out the finer details of such a celebration, but Ryanrecently circulated a for-team-eyes only playoffs itinerary that included a Feb. 9 victory parade in New York.
"When you lay it out in front of them," Ryan said, "I think they can visualize it and realize that 'Hey, man, if we take care of business, play the way we know we're capable of doing this, we can get this done.' "
A challenge or just chutzpah? You be the judge.
Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, a CBS analyst: "I just think San Diego is too much. Philip Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Norv [Turner] has done a nice job with how he's used the backs too. [LaDainian Tomlinson], maybe he's not the player he once was, but they've used him accordingly. And this Sproles kid, I think he's an exciting player not only as a runner, but with the way they get him the ball on the perimeter and with screens. That could really cause problems for the Jets defense."
The Chargers were my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl (over New Orleans), and I'm sticking with them. The player who could be a major headache for Ryan's defense is tight end Antonio Gates. Watch for a big game from him. Chargers 27, Jets 13.