The San Diego Chargers (4–3) visit the New York Giants (5–3) on Sunday in what amounts to a pivotal must win game for Big Blue.
The Giants are on a three-game skid following last week’s blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and can ill afford to head into the bye week at (5–4).
Should they lose to the Chargers, they’ll have a tough task trying to stay above .500 with upcoming games against the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, and Dallas Cowboys, before facing the Eagles at home.
Much like the Giants, the Chargers have been characterized as underachievers thus far this season, with strong performances coming against weaker opponents—Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chargers defensive line has also been banged up after losing huge nose tackle Jamal Williams to injury. But on the defensive side of the ball, that’s probably where the similarities end between the two teams because the Chargers are getting much better play from their linebackers and secondary than the G-Men.
The Giants defensive line came into the season with high expectations. They were being counted on to compensate for the lack of playmaking ability at the linebacker position and wreak havoc on opposing QBs, thus giving the secondary time to cover receivers like a blanket.
But as things stand, the D-line can barely create any pressure and this is creating huge problems for the secondary, which is stuck playing zone defense. They are thus susceptible to aggressive passing attacks from teams like New Orleans and Arizona.
The Giants’ slower linebackers have also been victimized by other teams passing games and have had problems covering receivers, particularly during crossing routes and screens.
Over the past three games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, and New Orleans Saints, the Giants defense has given up an eye-popping 1,172 total yards. All three teams chewed up New York’s defense by going after their linebackers and secondary.
Against the Chargers, the Giants must get pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers. If they fail to do so, Rivers could burn the defense by attacking their zone playing secondary and slower linebackers utilizing All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, running backs Darren Sproles and LaDainian Tomlinson, and wideout Vincent Jackson.
In order for the Giants defense to get pressure, it all starts with their top players including Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Mathias Kiwanuka. Head coach Tom Coughlin recognizes that is the case as well. He said on www.giants.com, “The guys that are in the role of a foot shoulder, they will play and they will work their tails off.”
“But what ultimately shows is when the guys that are recognized as your quality football players—they have to play themselves into a position where they are showing the way.”
New York Ball
When New York has the ball they have to control the clock with a strong running game behind bruiser Brandon Jacobs. That will be the winning formula against this Chargers defense. However, it won’t be easy considering the Giants’ run blocking has been weak as of late.
Should San Diego deny the Giants rushing attack and put the onus on Eli to win the game through the air, it could be an issue for the G-Men as Manning has thrown five interceptions over the past two games. The Chargers also have a talented secondary and if Eli gets careless, they will make him pay for it.
Coach Coughlin knows this game is a critical one. He is confident that the Giants are determined to turn the corner and get back to winning games, “We know we are not an excuse outfit. I think you have to look hard at it and you have to understand that things have to improve.