The 5-9 San Diego Chargers travel to the 6-8 New York Jets for a game with zero playoff implications and that has not been receiving much attention except for the Jets' QB controversy and the Chargers' head coach Norv Turner's long-overdue firing.
However, there is some intrigue. Maybe intrigue is too strong a word. Perhaps mild entertainment value is more apropos.
The Jets will be starting third-string QB Greg McElroy over the struggling Mark Sanchez and the enigma that is Tim Tebow. Former Crimson Tider McElroy was thrust into the game versus the Arizona Cardinals in week 13 where he went five-of-seven for 29 yards and tossed the game-winning, fourth-quarter, one-yard TD pass to Jeff Cumberland to beat the Cardinals 7-6. Rex Ryan’s decision to start McElroy is a result of Sanchez’s four INTs and a fumble in a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Monday night.
The Chargers have had their fair share of controversy as well. The burning question of whether Norv Turner and A.J. Smith will retain their jobs for yet another year remains. As does speculation regarding Philip Rivers' seemingly-dwindling utility. With all of this hullabaloo it is easy to overlook San Diego’s 13th ranked defense who has played rather well (except in that Monday night “double-header” versus Denver). So, kudos to the D. And to Mike Scifres.
So, in a game rife with potential headlines (well, not really), here are my three bold predictions:
1. Philip Rivers will not turn the ball over. At all. Really. Rivers needs only 210 passing yards over his final two games to be the first Chargers’ QB to have 3,500+ passing yards in five consecutive seasons and I think his sometimes-overwhelming competitiveness will make him want to earn that record as soon as possible.
Additionally, Rivers needs just three more TDs to earn his fifth consecutive 25-TD season to join the likes of Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. Yet he still isn’t considered elite.
2. The Chargers will win the game. Let’s say 30-27. In overtime. Just to really irritate those viewers who have to watch it and make the officiating squad earn their money in a game that just screams multiple penalties.
Despite the fact that San Diego leads the series 19-14-1, the Jets have won the last two, and the last five-of-seven meetings. The last time San Diego beat the Jets in New York was in 2005. Therefore, the inclination is to pick New York. To this, I have two words: Pittsburgh Steelers. Whom the Chargers stunned (as well as everyone in the free world) after being 0-14 in regular-season games in Pittsburgh.
3. Tim Tebow’s name will be mentioned more than McElroy’s, even though the latter will actually be playing. Come on, admit it, you agree. Let the Tim Tebow drinking games begin!