So, why is the road team a seven-point underdog?
Firstly, the Chargers are well equipped to attack New York's top-ranked pass defense. As Scout.com's Ed Thompson pointed out in this article, Philip Rivers is among the NFL's best quarterbacks against the blitz. And with check-downs like Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles, he has plenty of weapons to exploit an overaggressive defense.
CB Darrelle Revis
"He's an equal-opportunity quarterback," said Jets safety Jim Leonhard of Rivers. "He's willing to throw it to anyone. It doesn't matter. Whoever is open, that's where the ball is going."
A strong game by Rivers negates New York's biggest advantage; if the Jets are forced to abandon the run to keep pace in a high-scoring game, Mark Sanchez will be in trouble.
Although the rookie quarterback shined in his playoff debut (12 of 15 for 182 yards and a TD), he still struggles to read defenses and maintain accuracy under duress. He finished the season with eight more interceptions than TDs (20-12) and an embarrassing 63.0 passer rating.
"[The Chargers] put up a lot of points and they move the chains pretty well as well," said receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who played with Rivers at North Carolina State. "We know we're going to have to hold up our end of the bargain on offense and just play the way we've been playing the last couple weeks."
New York's offense may be its best defense. The Jets want to run the ball, shorten the game and keep San Diego's offense off the field. It's the same strategy the Tennessee Titans attempted to employ in Week 16. Titans RB Chris Johnson ran for 142 yards that game (6.8 ypc) and yet his team lost by 25 points.
While another 25-point win is unlikely, a letdown by the home team is a similar long shot. The Chargers have learned from their previous postseason pratfalls, including a home loss to the Jets in 2004, and now seem mentally and physically prepared for a deep playoff run.
"It really isn't about what team we play," Stephen Cooper said. "It's about us going out there and doing our job. We're real hungry right now."
The Chargers sit just three wins from satisfying their Super Bowl hunger. They take their first bite at the apple -- the Big Apple -- on Sunday.
Which team matches up better against its foe? Discuss in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.