Previewing the opposition: Los Angeles Chargers

Having bounced back from a 4-0 start, the 7-7 Chargers are looking to keep their postseason hopes alive as the Jets try to close out the season with a winning record at home. For the Chargers, travelling east for an early-afternoon kick-off is definitely challenging, but they will be expected to win, although they probably won't make the postseason even if they win out.

Let's review how their roster shapes up:


The Jets have faced a lot of experienced veterans over the past few months and this week is no different with Philip Rivers gunning for the win. The 36-year old Rivers had a career high 21 interceptions last year, but has just 10 this year - six of which have come in the two games against the Chiefs. He's also only been sacked 17 times.

Rivers has remained healthy enough to start every game but his back-up is former Jet Kellen Clemens.

Offensive line

As noted, the Chargers have done a good job of protecting Rivers this year, as none of their linemen have given up more than two sacks. However, Rivers was rattled in last week's game when both his starting tackles left the game due to injury. Each is listed as questionable this week as Russell Okung has a groin injury and Joe Barksdale has a hip issue.

In last week's game, rookie Sam Tevi and prison escapologist Michael Schofield filled in at tackle with the starters out. Okung is the team's best starter but does lead the linemen with six penalties.

Inside, another rookie, third rounder Dan Feeney, is establishing himself as a solid run blocker, but the Chargers have struggled since Matt Slauson went onto injured reserve. Center Spencer Pulley and guard Kenny Wiggins are both ranked right near the bottom at their respective positions by PFF.

Running Backs

Melvin Gordon is having a big season for the Chargers as he needs 69 yards to achieve the first thousand yard season of his career. He also has 49 pass receptions and 11 total touchdowns.

However, it's been rookie Austin Ekeler who has given the team a shot in the arm with some good playmaking in recent weeks. Ekeler reportedly broke his hand last week and was said to be out for the season, but he's actually been practicing and is listed as questionable.

Speedster Branden Oliver, who burned the Jets a few years ago, will fill in if Ekeler is out. Fullback Derek Watt will take care of the lead blocking.


The Chargers offense leans on Keenan Allen, who is having a big year. Allen already has 88 catches and needs just three more yards to get to 1,200 on the season.

Rookie tight end Hunter Henry has also had a big year but he's out for the season now so they'll turn back to the veteran Antonio Gates. Ex-Jet Jeff Cumberland may now be able get back into the rotation. He has just two catches for two yards on the year.

Tyrell Williams is a big play threat at receiver, leading the team with 17.5 yards per catch. Travis Benjamin has also had a productive year, but seventh overall pick Mike Williams hasn't produced much yet.

Defensive line

The Chargers present the Jets with another challenge up front because they bring excellent pass rushing off the edge. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have 21.5 sacks between them and are among the league leaders in creating pressure.

Corey Liuget, one of the Chargers' best run defenders, got injured last week so Darius Philon and Damien Square should split reps with veteran starter Brandon Mebane.

Off the bench, the inexperienced Chris McCain is having a break-out year with five sacks.


Los Angeles will also be without a starter at linebacker because Denzel Perryman is also out.

Kyle Emmanuel, Hayes Pullard and Jatavis Brown, all of whom were recent late round picks will start at linebacker. Brown is fast and a versatile playmaker, while Pullard can be exploited in coverage. Emmanuel has been good in coverage with an interception and three pass break-ups.

Defensive backs

Casey Hayward has established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the league as he has four interceptions and an impressive 20 pass break-ups. However, the big surprise has been Trevor Williams, a 2016 undrafted free agent, who has filled in for the injured Jason Verrett all year and done an outstanding job.

The Chargers have also received superb play from slot cornerback Desmond King, another rookie.

At safety Jahleel Addae leads the team with 85 tackles and Tre Boston has four interceptions. The Chargers also run a lot of three safety sets with Adrian Phillips.

Special teams

The Chargers are onto their fourth kicker of the season as they just added Nick Rose off waivers. Rose made 10 of 11 field goals in eight games with Washington earlier this year. They have more stability at punter where Drew Kaser - last year's sixth round pick - has shown improvement on his rookie season.

In the return game, King handles kick-offs and Benjamin returns punts. King hasn't put up good numbers but Benjamin had a touchdown earlier in the season.

In kick coverage, the Chargers have some standouts, including Ekeler, back-up linebacker Nick Dzubnar and reserve defensive back Michael Davis.