The winners of five of their last six, the Giants need to run the table to get to 9-7, and then hope for a division miracle.
However, the Giants haven’t beaten a good team yet and three tough games loom on the schedule.
Like the Giants, the Chargers are also 5-7, but still in the wild card chance in the AFC, where they have a more realistic chance.
Their offense is very good, and they have a great win in Kansas City several weeks back to hang their hats on. Playing at home, quarterback Philip Rivers and company will be tough to beat.
Giants on Offense
The best way to win this game is via time of possession. Keep the ball out of Rivers’ hands by moving the sticks and this game is winnable.
The good news is that the Chargers defense is middle of the pack, while the Giants offense is improving bit by bit. Running the ball will be critical, because if the Giants can’t present the threat of the run, their pass blocking will not hold up.
The continued fall-off-the-cliff of William Beatty’s ability to protect Eli Manning’s blind side remains the offense’s biggest mystery and problem. If this is the best that Beatty can do, then the future of this unit is in trouble.
With new starter James Brewer still trying to find his way alongside Beatty, the left side is vulnerable.
On the right side, David Diehl’s career is hanging by a thread as he continues to show his age. How the Giants have won as many games as they have with this offensive line group is a tribute to good coaching and good defense.
It will be imperative to finish off drives this week. That means Andre Brown and the touchdown-less Hakeem Nicks need to step up.
Brown’s health is not a given, nor is Nicks’. If healthy, these two guys are legit touchdown makers. Getting even a semblance of Nicks back into the red zone offense could pay huge dividends.
Getting such a solid contribution last week from Brandon Myers was unexpected. If Myers, who sat out Thursday’s practice with a groin injury, and Manning can continue to play off of each other, then the chains will be that much easier to move.
The strength of San Diego’s defense is its linebacker group. They field a 3-4 defense that is built to stop the run, but they have trouble rushing the passer. This matchup could favor the Giants, as long as they can hold up in the pit, which is far from a guarantee.
Giants on Defense
Containing the explosive Chargers offense will not be easy. Philip Rivers is having a sensational year, completing passes at a 70% clip, and spreading the ball around to numerous receivers.
Rivers doesn’t have that one big-time target – tight end Antonio Gates leads the team in receptions but he’s lost a couple of steps – but the Chargers have great depth at wide receiver.
Rivers loves to go to his backs out of the backfield, especially Danny Woodhead. Ryan Matthews is having a solid year running the ball.
Rivers’ offensive line is decent. Look for him to spread the field and pick apart the Giants’ short zones.
Can the Giants’ defense continue to hold up its end? They’ll be without Jason Pierre-Paul again, but Pierre-Paul hasn’t been himself this year. Rookie Damontre Moore will be given more snaps. It should be fun to watch him attack the line of scrimmage.
Jon Beason continues to be a force against the run, but we don’t think he’ll be a great matchup in the passing game.
Jacquian Williams will likely play every defensive snap. San Diego will likely play most of the game in the shotgun and use the entire field.
Can the defense get pressure on Rivers? If not, he could light them up. Rivers is very tough to blitz because he gets rid of the ball quickly, and he’s tall and sees the field so well. The Giants’ front four will have to create pressure on its own if the defense is going to hold up.
Giants on Specials
The kicking games remains on the upswing. Weatherford and Brown are performing very well. The Giants return game remains bogged down with little hope for improvement, which is why ball security remains its greatest goal.
The Chargers have not been great on returns, but they run out two very good kickers in Nick Novak and punter Mike Scifres. Gaining a stalemate against these guys is probably the best the Giants can hope for.
The home stretch does not look kindly on the Giants. This week is the first of three games that will be very tough matchups. We don’t think the defense will be able to contain Philip Rivers. The offense will have to score points to win. We don’t think they can score enough.