The Jets (5-9) against Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 1 p.m. ET.
If you're dreaming of a white Christmas … keep dreaming. On the day before, it'll be in the low 40s, partly cloudy and light winds.
WHAT IT MEANS
Nothing. At least not to the Jets -- although if they're still at all undecided on the future of Todd Bowles, a respectable showing down the stretch can only help. The Chargers, meanwhile, are one game back in both the wild-card and AFC West races.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson. Will he play or won't he? All the drama of that could be wrapped up by 11:30 a.m. when the Jets announce their inactive list. If he's not on it, it'll be interesting to see if he actually gets in the game. Coming off his one-game benching last week, Bowles considered the possibility of sitting Wilkerson the rest of the season, according to sources. That would make sense because if he gets seriously hurt in the last two games, his $16.75 million salary for 2018 becomes guaranteed. And if he plays, will Wilkerson care enough to give much of an effort? Probably, because he surely wants someone to pay him next season. Then again, he hasn't cared enough to show up on time throughout the season.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Jets LT Kelvin Beachum and RT Brandon Shell vs. Chargers DE Joey Bosa and DE/LB Melvin Ingram. The Jets' offensive line has given up 40 sacks this season, which is obviously not good. Somehow, veteran Josh McCown had been able to thrive -- or at least survive -- under that pressure. He took a beating, but he still got more out of that offense than anyone expected despite that. Surely that had a lot to do with his veteran poise and calmness. He rarely looked like he was being rushed into a bad decision.
It's hard to imagine that in just his sixth NFL start, Bryce Petty will handle pressure as well -- and he will feel pressure. Bosa and Ingram are one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL with a combined 21 1/2 sacks on the season. They will likely be in Petty's face a lot, which probably means he can forget about trying to show off his strong arm with downfield passes, and he could be rushed into some bad, rookie-like decisions. But if Beachum and Shell can somehow hold them off a little, who knows what Petty will be able to do?
The Chargers, once 0-4, have taken a remarkable climb back into the playoff race. Up until their 30-13 loss in Kansas City last week, it looked real, too. Considering they have two very winnable games the rest of the season -- this one and home against the Raiders on New Year's Eve -- it's hard to imagine them going quietly. And they likely won't be quiet in this game. They aren't quite the Saints in terms of offensive explosiveness, and they do tend to make untimely mistakes. But they are a dangerous and diverse passing offense which could be difficult for the Jets, especially if they're unable to get pressure on Philip Rivers. And while they don't score as much as the Saints, they're capable of scoring enough to make it difficult for a Petty-led offense to keep up.
The Jets' strategy should be exactly what it was in New Orleans: run the ball and control the clock. The Chargers' rushing defense is the third-worst in the NFL, which should play into the Jets' strength. It's hard to imagine it will be enough unless they get a surprisingly good defensive effort. And that's hard to imagine, especially since they now know they are officially eliminated. They are only playing for pride, and that might not be enough. … Chargers 27, Jets 13.
MY RECORD: 7-7
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 2-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 5-3