But the Chargers are elated just to have a healthy Tomlinson, regardless of his advanced age and declining stats. Tomlinson was knocked from each of the past two postseasons with injuries, so his mere presence will boost an offense that thrives on controlling the ball and taking select shots.
"I'm excited about [being healthy]," Tomlinson said. "It's been a while since that divisional game when we lost to the Patriots, the last time I was actually healthy in the playoffs. So, I'm excited about it. I get to go out and turn it loose and whatever happens, happens."
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
A healthy Tomlinson could go a long way towards accomplishing both of those missions. And while some may question whether he still has the ability to deliver, his coach has no doubt.
"L.T. has really had an exceptional year," Norv Turner said. "I know some people get caught up in the numbers, but L.T. sprained his ankle. He had a high ankle sprain in the first week of the season. He played half a game in that game (and) missed two games. (He) didn't get many carries in the Pittsburgh game, so really the first fourth of the season he was very limited. As he got back healthy, he started putting up better numbers and going.
"This second half of the season, I think he's had nine touchdowns. What we've done really is he's played and then when we felt it was time to get him out we cut down on his reps. He's had a number of games where he's had 55 or 60 yards at halftime and only got three carries in the second half whether we were ahead, whether we mixed in (Darren) Sproles, or whether we were throwing it. I think L.T. has had a particularly very good second half of the season."
On defense, a healthy Shawne Merriman could make an equally sizable impact. Merriman started the season slowly as he worked his way back from offseason knee surgery. He posted four sacks between Weeks 8 and 9 -- his only sacks of the season -- but then injured his foot and struggled down the stretch.
Merriman sat out the season finale against the Washington Redskins and the bye week, making him as rested as he's been all season. His possible reemergence would be significant for a team desperate for another pass rusher; Shaun Phillips (seven sacks) is the only player with more than four sacks this season.
If San Diego's edge rushers play like the Shawne and Shaun of old (they combined for 49.5 sacks in 2006 and 2007), it would give the Chargers a huge edge against a Jets team fielding a rookie QB.
"It's always a premium on any quarterback, it doesn't matter if it's a 10-year veteran or a rookie quarterback," Phillips said. "The quarterback is a guy that has the ball in his hands the most, so who better to get pressure on."
Could Sunday be the end of the Tomlinson era? 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.