The San Diego Chargers are trying to remain relevant in the AFC Playoff picture this week when they face the New York Giants on Sunday. The Giants have come on strong in the second half of the season after their horrendous start, but they still have the problems that plagued them at the beginning of the year.
If the Chargers play to their potential, they should walk out of this game with a victory, but with any slippage, especially in the secondary, the Chargers could finally fall out of the playoff picture with a loss. Lets look at some key matchups that could lead the Chargers to victory this week.
San Diego Secondary vs. New York Receivers
This might be the biggest matchup of the week for the Chargers because I’m not sure if they have the ability to shut down the Giants receivers. Shareece Wright and Derek Cox have been suspect in coverage this year, paving the way for the worst pass defense in the league.
The Chargers have consistently let lesser receiving cores run wild on them (the Chiefs) and now have to face one of the more scary units in the league. The emergence of Rueben Randle has compensated for the drop in Hakeem Nicks’ play, giving the Giants’ three above-average receivers with which to attack teams.
However, the most dangerous receiver for the Giants still is Victor Cruz out of the slot, and it will take a group effort from the linebackers, safeties, and nickel corners to corral him. I feel that the only stud on the Chargers D, Eric Weddle, will need to shine in a variety of ways in the pass game (blitzing, covering, and freelancing) to give the Chargers the upper hand in this battle.
Chargers Offensive Line vs. Giants Defensive Line
This might seem like a cliche matchup against the Giants since everyone remembers this unit wrecking the Patriots perfect season six years ago. However, this Giants D- line is not nearly the same animal it has been in the past and slowing them down hasn’t been overall difficult this season.
That being said, they showed some life against the putrid Redskins last week, especially Justin Tuck, who turned in a 4- sack performance on Monday night. It looks like King Dunlap should be returning this week, which will bump D.J. Fluker back to right tackle, helping to solidify a unit that has performed admirable amidst injuries.
I think the Chargers line will protect quite nicely this week, and, especially with Philip’s ability to get the ball out quickly, I see the passing game flourishing against the G-men.
Any time Eli Manning is involved, turnovers will be prominently involved as a reason one team or the other wins the game. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they aren’t very equipped at forcing turnovers this season as they have only forced 11 turnovers all year. Eli may throw a lot of picks this year, 21 to be exact, but when you are as horrible in coverage as the Chargers, you don’t come into interception opportunities very often.
On top of that, the Chargers aren’t very adept at forcing fumbles, so thinking that they are going to luck into fumbles will probably be a losing proposition. Good thing for the Chargers, Philip forgot how to turn the ball over with any consistency this year, allowing the Chargers offense to take off again. If Philip continues to play like a star, this will be a huge advantage for the Chargers on Sunday.
By: Ryan Rodriguez