2005 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 11th (12th rush, 14th pass); defense 21st (3rd rush, 29th pass). Jets: offense 30th (29th rush, 26th pass); defense 12th (30th rush, 6th pass)
PREDICTION: Chargers 30-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jets offense isn't going to get very far banking on its shuffled offensive line trying to protect 41-year-old QB Vinny Testaverde from the Chargers' pass rush, which has received a boost from the emergence of rookie OLB Shawne Merriman.
New York needs a strong start from RB Curtis Martin not only to ease the pass rush against Testaverde, but to help protect its own defense. The Jets are allowing a respectable 4.0 yards per carry, but they are facing more than 35 carries per game and allowing and average of 140.6 rushing yards.
Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson has gone two games without a 100-yard rushing day, which not coincidentally coincides with when C Nick Hardwick suffered an ankle injury that will likely keep him out again Sunday. LT Roman Oben is also a big question mark, and his absence would be a lift to the Jets' run defense.
Chargers: Tomlinson has as many touchdown passes -- three -- as all the Jets quarterbacks combined. ... Are 5-0 when TE Antonio Gates scores at least two touchdowns.
Jets: Testaverde needs 20 completions to pass Fran Tarkenton (3,686) for fifth-most all-time. ... Martin needs one touchdown to become the 10th running back in NFL history with 100.
Nick Hardwick (ankle) didn't practice and it looks as if he's down for another week. Bob Hallen would start if Hardwick can't go.
Ryan Krause (foot) didn't practice; he won't play Sunday.
Nate Kaeding (back) practiced and is fine. He will likely kick off as well on Sunday.
Roman Oben (foot) didn't practice and is still walking with a considerable limp. He would be replaced by Leander Jordan, who's never started at left tackle.
Mike Goff (ankle) practiced and is questionable; he'll go Sunday.
Eric Parker (ankle) didn't practice, but seems to think he can go Sunday. But how long he would hold up is another matter.
Andrew Pinnock (shoulder/calf) didn't practice and is doubtful.
Curtis Martin practiced most of the week and is expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. He is, however, still bothered by a strained right knee.
Vinny Testaverde will be on a short leash this week and the Jets will consider replacing him midstream with Brooks Bollinger if he plays especially poorly. Testaverde has yet to throw a touchdown and hasn't played well in three starts.
Jason Fabini is on the hot seat as the offensive line continues to struggle. Fabini has switched over to the right side because of a sprained knee and hasn't played well. Coach Herman Edwards is considering using veteran Scott Gragg if Fabini gets worse.
Joel Dressen has been playing a lot on goal-line and short-yardage situations. The Jets are even throwing to the rookie, even in the end zone.
Craig Bragg was signed to the active roster this week after his release by Green Bay.