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Jets think all the pressure is on Chargers

The way the Jets explain it, LaDainian Tomlinson

The way the Jets explain it, LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers have everything to lose in their AFC divisional playoff game. Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - They're not the team that's reeled off 11 consecutive victories. They aren't the ones who earned a first-round bye as the AFC's No. 2 seed and might need to shake off a little rust early on.

There are no whispers about how their coach can't always get it done on the big stage in the playoffs, no talk about how their high-powered offense is nearly unstoppable.

Pressure? The Jets say they don't feel any pressure. That's something they believe resides in the Chargers' locker room and will set up shop on San Diego's sideline at Qualcomm Stadium in Sunday afternoon's AFC divisional game.

"I think the pressure is all on them," Jets tackle Damien Woody said Thursday. "Everybody expects us to lose this game, so we go out there and we are playing loose. They are the ones that are riding the 11-game winning streak, and I'm sure they are hearing everybody on TV saying, 'Aw, they're going to win, this and that.' So the pressure is not on us; it's squarely on them to follow through on everybody's prediction."

Linebacker Calvin Pace said: "I don't think the pressure is on us. We are not the team that had the first-round bye. To hear everybody tell it, we weren't supposed to be here anyway. So we should just go out there and let it all hang out."

What about you, Shaun Ellis? You concur with all that?

"Yeah, I think the pressure is on them," the defensive end said. "I don't feel like the pressure is on us. We are just going out there to play. To them, they have a home game and they want to have a good performance at home."

After a miraculous season-ending run to halt a two-year postseason drought and a wild-card win over the Bengals last weekend, the Jets essentially are playing with house money, though that's not the way they prefer to look at it.

San Diego, on the other hand, is one of the hottest teams in the league. The Chargers have 13 wins and are 5-0 at home since a 34-24 loss to the Broncos Oct. 19.

Their high-octane offense averaged 28.4 points per game, and they've scored at least 20 points in 22 straight games, the NFL's longest active streak. They're also 7-point favorites, putting the Jets in the underdog role they love to embrace.

"I think everybody out there is going to play with a chip on their shoulders," defensive end Marques Douglas said. "They are making Super Bowl songs, already making their travel arrangements to Miami. So guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder. We want to come back to New York and be around here next week. That's our whole thing. We want to be around here next week."

If the Jets are around for more than just a day to clean out their lockers, that means they'll be playing for the AFC championship for the first time since 1999, when they blew a 10-0 third-quarter lead and lost to Denver, 23-10. Should they get past San Diego, maybe they would start feeling more of the pressure that comes with being one of the final four teams.

But this weekend? The Jets say they aren't fazed in the least.

"I think we take on the mentality of our coach," Woody said. "He's not a tight person. That's like the opposite of what he is. We're a very loose squad. He wants us to go out and play loose and play fast and play violent. Trust me, we're not going to be tight out there. So if anybody is going to be tight, it's going to be them. It's not going to be us."

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