Two teams that have had some classic playoff duels throughout the past two decades, the Jets and Chargers will do battle in Los Angeles this Sunday, but neither team can even sniff the postseason at the moment. The Jets have yet to win a game in nine tries, while the Chargers have cooled off after a promising start and come in at 2-7.
New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers
Sunday, November 22, 2020 – 04:05 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
Close, but No Cigar
The Jets nearly came away with their first win of the season in Week 10, blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth and falling to the Patriots on a game-winning drive in the closing minutes. There were promising signs in the game — many of the 10 rookies the Jets started in the game had either career games or encouraging debuts — but the issue still remained that they have failed to put together a solid performance for 60 minutes.
Head coach Adam Gase surely has to take some blame here, but he’s also to thank for the team’s seeming resurgence on the offensive side of the ball. Why? Because he’s given up playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, of course. Since then, the Jets put up 27 against the Pats and had a very solid first half against a decent Chiefs defense, getting into field goal territory three times. While it sounds like nothing, this is progress for the worst offense in the league.
While six of the last eight quarters have given hope for optimism, this team’s quarterback is still Joe Flacco, as Sam Darnold has been ruled out yet again due to injury. It’ll be Darnold's fourth time on the sideline in the last six games. That will hamper the Jets offensively, as will the apparent phasing out of future Hall of Famer Frank Gore, who will reportedly be taking a back seat to rookie La’Mical Perine with the season lost at this point.
Whether they want to admit it or not, the Jets are laser-focused on the NFL Draft, as they’d be sitting at No. 1 with a generational talent available at quarterback. Los Angeles shouldn’t pose the problems that many of the Jets’ difficult opponents have so far, but there’s no reason to believe this offensive performance will be any different.
A Needed Distraction
Normally, teams will tell players that their long hair is a big distraction, and that their lack of a haircut is attracting all the wrong attention. In this case, a haircut is exactly the distraction that the Chargers needed.
The headlines this week surrounding the Chargers weren’t about their awful slide or their injuries at running back. They were about rookie Justin Herbert, who cut his long, luscious hair for the first time in two years. The real story here is that Los Angeles has lost three in a row, and is now relying on Kalen Ballage — who has long been a meme among those who cover the league — as its lead back due to injuries sustained by Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. That surely won’t help a rushing offense that ranks 25th in DVOA. The Chargers need to find a way to reignite their offense. In theory, a matchup with a soft Jets secondary does just that.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers rate decently against the pass — allowing the 11th-best yards per pass — but struggle against the run. They’ve also been unable to close out games, allowing comeback after comeback over the season; everyone from Patrick Mahomes to Drew Lock has found a way to feast in the second half. That doesn’t bode well for their chances at an easy win here.
The Jets are getting nearly a touchdown and a field goal at the best sportsbooks, and I’m inclined to take it. While they’re 0-9 against NFL spreads this year, Los Angeles is just 2-7. The Jets showed a ton on offense against a pretty highly-rated defense in New England last Monday. They should be able to keep things close in a much easier matchup with a Chargers defense allowing 27.2 points per game, good for 22nd in football.