Giants (4-8) Chargers (7-5)
Playing in Cincinnati last Sunday, the Los
Angeles Chargers saw their second quarter 24 point lead drop to just 2 points
by the end of the third quarter. The Chargers got back on track after that, and
held the Bengals scoreless while they added two touchdowns and a field goal for
a 41-22 win.
In the game last week at Miami,
the Giants were struggling to make a go of it using their backup quarterback.
They were down just 10-3 at the end of the first half, but couldn't find a way
to get their offense going. The Giants ended up scoring only two more field goals
and took a 20-9 loss to the Dolphins.
The Chargers finished
second in the division in 2018 with a 12-4 record to the Kansas City Chiefs, who
were also 12-4. Tie breakers gave the Chiefs the title, but the Chargers were
in the playoffs. They won the Wild Card game with the Ravens, before losing out
to the Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs. After that the Chargers had a 5-11
season, and last year finished 7-9.
With new head coach Brandon Staley, they've
already matched the 7 wins they had last year, and have five left to play. The
Chiefs are just ahead of them with an 8-4 record, and these two teams will play
each other right after the Giants game next Thursday. Staley was the defensive
coordinator in 2020 for the Los Angeles Rams. That defense finished the season
1st in passing defense and points allowed, 3rd in rushing defense, and 2nd in
Quarterback Justin Herbert was the NFL Rookie of the year last season. Herbert
set NFL records for passing touchdowns (31), total touchdowns (36), and completions
(396). Herbert is on track to pass all those numbers, and currently is third in
the NFL with 27 touchdown passes, and first with seven 300-yard passing games.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen is Herbert's favorite target, as he was last year when
he led the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. Right now Allen is tied for
second in the league with 86 receptions, but he will miss this game, having tested
positive for COVID-19 this week.
The Chargers second leading receiver is Mike
Williams, who was in league protocols as a close contact to Allen. Williams is
tied with running back Austin Ekeler for the most receiving touchdowns, each having
seven. Ekeler has really turned it on in that area. Last year he caught two touchdown
passes, and ran for one. Right now Ekeler has those 7 he caught, to go with his
8 rushing touchdowns. Herbert is the second leading ball carrier, with 2 touchdowns
on 44 carries.
rusher Joey Bosa missed two games last year, and was still second in the AFC with
15 tackles for a loss. Bosa also led the team with 7.5 sacks, and is leading the
team now with that exact same number. Last week this defense came up with four
turnovers, and feasted on Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, sacking him six times.
They are tough with their passing defense, allowing 209.5 passing yards a game,
and just 17 passing touchdowns, and this week they will be playing against a backup
quarterback. The Chargers are 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing an average
of 141 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. Their 17 rushing touchdowns
surrendered is the third-most in the league.
The Chargers have been improving
on that over the last few games. They rank 27th in the league in points allowed,
but they are up against the Giants, who struggle to get past 20 points a game.
The Giants had no touchdowns, and scored just 9 points last week against the Miami
Dolphins. The defense has had trouble getting teams off the field on third down
plays, allowing opponents to gain a first down 44.4 percent of the time.
The big issue for the offense week
in and week out has been, who will be playing, and how functional will that player
be. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney will be out for the third consecutive week. Sterling
Shepard and Kenny Golladay, who was hurt in last week's game, practiced this week.
They are both listed as questionable, with Golladay looking the best to play on
Daniel Jones has been ruled out for this game, just as he was last
week when Mike Glennon filled in as the starter. Jones
suffered a neck injury on Nov. 28 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and finished
that game, but is still dealing with that injury. Glennon for sure will need something
much better than what he got from his two running backs last week. Leaning on
Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker in his first start, they ran the ball 8 times
for 21 yards, and caught 4 out of 6 passes for minus 6 yards in that first half.
Barkley and Booker did better in the second half running and catching, but it
wasn't enough to move the needle. Barkley has had another week to recover from
the ankle sprain that forced him to miss four games. Both runners will be up against
a defense that is weak defending the ground game. Maybe this time they'll be able
to get something going to help Glennon keep the offense on the field, and the
Chargers offense off it.
With the Chargers missing Keenan
Allen, the overall task for this defense gets a bit easier. Justin Herbert has
a total 176 passing first downs on the season, and Allen was responsible for 53.
The next thing to deal with is Austin Ekeler. He leads all the running backs in
the league with 7 touchdown catches, and is near the top in receptions and yards.
The Giants will have to play tough up front. Ekeler keeps the ground game moving,
averaging 4.4 yards a carry, and is responsible for more than half of their rushing
first downs. They'll also have to keep an eye on quarterback Justin Herbert. Ekeler
and Herbert have accounted for 58 of the 73 rushing first downs.
did a good job on that with the Dolphins last week, limiting them to just 68 yards
on 25 attempts for an average of 2.7 yards per carry, and just one rushing first
down. Linebacker Tae Crowder has shown improvement filling in for Blake Martinez,
and he needs to keep it up or Ekeler will have a big day. Cornerback James Bradberry
hasn't been playing his best this season, and opposing quarterbacks have taken
notice. Herbert is a very good quarterback, and last week Tua Tagovailoa completed
73.2 percent of his passes for 244 yards, 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Giants are 4-8 and any chance of making
the playoffs is all but gone, but they keep at it. The Giants were in Tucson between
games with Miami and Los Angeles, as Joe Judge felt it would be beneficial for
the players to adjust to the weather and time zone changes. Any plan to help the
Giants get an extra boost in this game with the Chargers was worth trying.
The Chargers have an all important game with the Kansas City Chiefs coming up
the following Thursday after this Giants game. Having Sterling Shepard, Kenny
Golladay and Saquon Barkley playing at full strength would be a big boost for
the Giants, especially if the Chargers aren't prepared for it.
Sunday at 1:00pm Cowboys (8-4)
at Washington (6-6).
Sunday at 4:05pm Giants (4-8) at Chargers (7-5).
Cowboys are the only NFC East team favored to win in these games.
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Dec 19 Cowboys at Giants
26 Giants at Eagles