The lights are so bright, and they’ve definitely blinded the New York Giants who have gotten off to a dreadful 0-4 start.
They’ll look to finally add to their win column against the likewise hapless Los Angeles Chargers, as two of the NFL’s four winless teams square off on Sunday at MetLife Stadium (1:00 PM, CBS).
The Giants are coming off back-to-back last-second losses, done in by field goals as time expired in consecutive trips to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. In a sick case of deja vu, the Giants were able to make up a two-touchdown deficit for the second consecutive week.
However, they were done in by untimely defense, who gave up 10 points on their final two possessions to create a 25-23 final.
Quarterback Eli Manning threw two more touchdown passes and ran for another, his 14-yard second quarter score being the longest scoring rush of his career. Rookie running back Wayne Gallman added 42 yards on the ground and caught one of Manning’s touchdown throws in his NFL debut.
The Chargers (0-4) have been likewise luckless in their first quartet, but have lost by a combined 21 points. The last defeat was to another NFC East foe, as LA fell 26-24 to the Philadelphia Eagles at home. Quarterback Phillip Rivers had 347 yards and two scores in defeat.
Season Series History
The Giants open their AFC West portion of the schedule against the newly minted Los Angeles Chargers. The Giants were 5-6 against the San Diego incarnation, dropping the last three meetings, including a 37-14 loss in the final meeting at Qualcomm Stadium in 2013.
This will be the Chargers’ first visit to MetLife Stadium to play the Giants (they’re 1-1 against the Jets) and their first visit to East Rutherford overall since 2009, when Rivers found Vincent Jackson with 21 seconds left to ensure a 21-20 victory.
Fun fact: Giants quarterback Eli Manning, acquired in that blockbuster draft-day trade for Philip rivers and a handful of draft picks, has never beaten the Chargers.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup To Watch: Chargers defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram vs. Giants’ Offensive Tackles
We’ve seen over recent weeks just how much havoc Bosa and Ingram can cause in opponents’ backfields.
The Giants’ offensive line has probably caused an equal amount of damage in their own. Bobby Hart is off the Giants’ injury list, and could return against the Chargers. If he does, he’ll get an instant welcome-back in the form of the fearsome LA duo, giving he and Ereck Flowers a whole lot to worry about in the team’s return to MetLife Stadium,
Flowers, to his credit, has played better the lasst two weeks, which at least gives him a sliver of momentum going into this challenge.
In addition, the offensive did now allow any sacks last week against a strong Tampa unit, albeit one dealing with injuries. Blocking will be vital not just for Manning, but for a run game that could possibly be using a rookie in the premiere spot in Gallman.
Injury Report[table “33” not found /]
The Giants Will Win If…
They get off to a fast start. Along with the Buffalo Bills, the Giants are one of two teams with zero first quarter points. The difference is, however, that the Bills, currently at 3-1, have made up for it in the other quarters, while the Giants have struggled throughout the game.
More troubling than no first quarter points, however, is the complete ineptitude that the Giants have shown on their opening possessions.
In the first drives of their first four games, New York has tallied just 37 yards…a number that sinks all the way to minus-2 yards when you subtract a 39 yard drive (that ended in a punt) against Philadelphia.
If only by simply being the home team, the Giants are the slight favorites against the winless Chargers. An extraordinarily strong majority of upsets occur when the underdog is allowed to stick around in the game.
The Giants will need to stifle Los Angeles early and get the home crowd on their side, which the Chargers have notoriously had trouble doing over at StubHub Center, if they wish to erase the zero in their win column.
The Chargers Will Win If…
They bully the Giants in their own building. Looking at the Chargers’ previous box scores, they very well could be 3-1, and even their 24-10 loss to the undefeated Chiefs was closer than the final indicated. The aforementioned big match-up in this game, the battle of the trenches, is clearly in LA’s favor, and if they can assert their will, the boo birds will appear very early at MetLife Stadium.
The Chargers can also bully the Giants on offense. If there’s one thing the New York media is tried of writing about–other than the Giants’ offensive line problems–it’s the problems the Giants have had covering tight ends, who have tallied five touchdowns in four games against them this year.
LA presents the challenge of not just one legendary tight end in Antonio Gates, but a talented youngster in Hunter Henry. If they can exploit the Giants’ weaknesses on both sides of the ball, the Chargers can earn their first LA win since 1960.
Does anyone deserve to win this game, other than the fans, a good majority of whom will make their way to MetLife solely because they already paid for their tickets?
Despite the winless start, there’s no denying the Chargers have been closer to a win and far more disciplined than their New York counterparts. Manning, who has been the least of the Giants problems, certain deserves something for his efforts this lost season, and a win over the Chargers would certainly suffice.
However, even that will be denied to Manning as the Chargers will take a sloppy game on Sunday.
Chargers 21, Giants 13