By Dave Thomas
To say the New York Jets have gotten off to a rugged start to the 2014 NFL season would likely be an understatement.
After a season-opening win at home against the lowly Oakland Raiders, New York has been beaten upside down by the NFC North over the last three weeks, with losses to Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. Too bad for the Jets that they could not have caught Minnesota early in the season with how bad the Vikings look following a season-opening victory in St. Louis.
That aside, the Jets will look to turn the tables on 3-1 San Diego this Sunday when the two AFC rivals collide in warm Southern California.
New York, Smith Need Some Confidence
With three straight losses, a win over the streaking Chargers would certainly give the Jets some confidence, especially with back-to-back tests after this weekend against Denver and New England (a Thursday night game) in a span of less than a week.
Along with getting Smith some confidence that he can do the job in the bright lights of New York City, the Jets also need to focus in on a San Diego team that very easily could be 4-0 (lost in season opener to Arizona 18-17) had it not blown an early 17-6 fourth quarter lead against the Cardinals.
The Chargers have little to no running game right now with injuries to starters Ryan Mathews (out indefinitely with a knee injury) and Danny Woodhead (done for the season with a broken fibula). That said, quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown for 1,155 yards in four games, his receivers (Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, Antonio Gates) are all off to good starts, and the Charger defense is rolling along. In the three wins to date, San Diego did a rather good job of bottling up Russell Wilson and the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (30-21), while scoring decisive wins the last two weekends against Buffalo (22-10) and Jacksonville (33-14), respectively.
For the Jets to get out of San Diego (Chargers are a 6.5-point favorite) with an upset win, the keys will be to ground starting running back Donald Brown, limit Rivers from having a big day, and be able to sustain drives that keep the Chargers’ defense on the field for long stretches and allows Smith to feel confident under center.
Heading into the contest, the Jets were dealing with a handful of injuries, including to the likes of wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) and corner Dee Milliner (quadriceps). According to Ryan, Milliner is expected to play this weekend, something that should help out New York’s secondary in its efforts to contain Rivers and company.
Thursday’s Injury Report:
Eric Decker (wide receiver) – hamstring – did not practice
Damon Harrison (tackle) – ankle – full practice
Chris Johnson (running back) – ankle – full practice
Dee Milliner (corner) – quadriceps – full practice
David Nelson (wide receiver) – ankle – did not practice
Calvin Pryor (safety) – quadriceps – full practice
For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.