Gang Green Comes to America’s Finest City
By Brody Burns
A reeling case of Gang Green is set to invade America’s Finest City this Sunday, as the New York Jets take on the San Diego Chargers. The game is close to a must-win for the Jets (with the next 3 games: vs. Den, @ NE, vs. Buf) who cannot afford to enter their week 7 matchup against the Patriots at 1-5. On the other side, the Chargers, who are beginning to live up to the “Super Chargers” label, are coming off of three straight wins and look poised to be a legitimate contender in the AFC this season.
The Jets (1-3), are ice cold, having lost three in a row to the NFC North (Packers, Bears and then Lions) and are mired in a QB controversy; Geno Smith or Michael Vick. This is not the normal QB controversy as the New York media has injected steroids into the veins of the debate. Smith, the starter in the first four games, has been lousy all season. His total QBR is a paltry 27.6 which ranks him 31st in the league. The only QB who ranks below Smith is the Bills EJ Manuel, who just got benched. Smith has thrown four interceptions in his past three games, has a completion percentage hovering around 60 percent, and has resorted to launching profanities at fans. The league should be asking him for a check for the latter incident. Meanwhile the other option is Vick, who at one time was the most electrifying player in the league, but can’t find his way to the field this season. He has yet to play a meaningful snap this season; he’s attempted one pass and one rush. Father time may be catching up with Vick, but the Jets thought enough of him to pay him $4 million this season to ride the bench.
It’s the latest version of the aging veteran vs. promising youngster debate. Jacksonville rightfully went young gun, when earlier this season they gave the reins to rookie QB Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, Minnesota tried to deny Teddy Time. The Vikings gave Matt Cassel the starting job this season, but thankfully for Vikings fans fate stepped in and Cassel is now out for the season with an injury. The debate is often steeped in hyperbole about win now versus building for the future. I usually don’t buy it.
I am generally on the young gun side…but not this time. Vick is the only choice. Smith is no good. Vick gives the Jets a chance to win now (yikes…hate that phrase). The Jets have a stout defense, ranked seventh in the league, have enough pieces to compete, and their division is trending way down.
In case you’ve missed the first four weeks, the NFC East is wide open. The Patriots dynasty looks to be over as Tom Brady got pulled in the fourth quarter last week in a blowout loss to the Chiefs; the Dolphins just won the “London Save our Head Coaches Job” game against the lowly Raiders; and the Bills are, well, the Bills. Any team could finish first, and any team could finish last. The Jets, despite the slow start, still have a genuine shot at the division and Vick gives them the only real chance of contending. But they can’t go 1-5, with losses to the Chargers and Broncos, and still have a legitimate chance of winning the division. That’s why Sunday is close to a must-win for the Jets.
The Chargers are not mired in a slump and have no such QB dilemma. The Chargers are real good. With the Broncos loss at Seattle, the Chargers are poised to enter their week 8 matchup at Denver with a 6-1 record, and that game will likely decide who controls the division. The Chargers have been solid in all phases of the game. Led by MVP candidate Philip Rivers, the Chargers have simply dominated. Since their week 1 loss to the Cardinals, the Chargers have won by 9, 12 and 19. The Chargers are currently second in the league with a +5 turnover margin. And they are entering a three game stretch where they don’t have to leave the state of California (vs. NYJ, @ OAK, vs. KC). The only thing missing is fans – as hopefully the team can sell the final 3,000 tickets to lift the impending blackout. (Admittedly I am a Broncos Fan, but this is not a jab at the Chargers fan base – this is merely a recognition that the ridiculous blackout rule still exists, even after the FCC jumped ship this week.)
Vegas is making the Chargers a seven point favorite. I think it will be a worse than a touchdown. The Jets are poised to play Smith and that should make Charger fans happy. I’m gonna break it down a bit further this week…
1st Half: Chargers 17 – Jets 3
After Geno Smith throws his second interception to Eric Weddle of the first half, Rex Ryan calls on Vick to try and save the Jets.
2nd Half: Chargers 10 – Jets 10
Vick comes in and leads the Jets to a quick third quarter touchdown, but Corey Liuget and Dwight Freeney meet at the QB in the fourth, forcing a Vick fumble, and a Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen touchdown to lock the game.
Final Score: Chargers 27, Jets 13