Fresh off winning at Washington last week, New York (5-7) now travels to the west coast for a trip to sunny San Diego to take on the San Diego Chargers (5-7).
This game will be noteworthy for the fact that Eli Manning comes back to San Diego once again. If you didn’t know, it was the Chargers who traded away Manning (the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in 2004) to the Giants, since Manning wanted nothing to do with the Chargers organization.
Manning and Chargers’ quarterback Phil Rivers’ (who was initially drafted No. 4 overall by the Giants) careers will forever be intertwined. Obviously, after two Super Bowl victories later, the Giants clearly have gotten the better of the swap.
With Manning’s success and his desire not to play in San Diego, expect the boo birds to rain down hard on Sunday.
Alas, let’s asses the five things to watch for in Sunday’s contest.
Will Manning be fazed by the Chargers’ fanbase?
After winning two Super Bowls in the face of real adversity, there is not much that fazes Manning these days. That’s not to say San Diego will be hospitable hosts this week (and as a side not, from someone who was in the end zone seats the last time these two teams played in San Diego, they can be brutal and Manning was awful on that day).
Manning can hush the crowd by going to the air and exploiting a weak Chargers’ secondary. The Chargers allow 269 passing yards per game (28th in the NFL) and have given up 19 passing touchdowns (tied for 15th in the NFL).
With Manning coming off an efficient performance last week in Washington (completing 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards, albeit with another pick), look for him to continue his groove against another vulnerable pass defense.
Can Andre Brown continue to keep pounding the rock?
While he wasn’t overly efficient in the game at Washington last week, rushing for 35 yards on 14 carries, Brown did punch in two touchdowns. So, when the Giants get in the red zone you know they are going to feed Brown the ball a lot.
San Diego is in the bottom-third of the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 117.8 rushing yards per game (21st in the NFL) while also yielding 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Expect the Giants to go to the well again and strive for nice balance with plenty of handoffs to Brown.
With Jason Pierre-Paul out, can Damontre Moore step up?
Moore has been getting some nice run lately with Pierre-Paul banged up. Last week he suited up on the right side for 17 snaps and is showing some signs of breaking through.
Moore excelled in the preseason, but with Tom Coughlin averse to playing wet-behind-the-ear rookies, Moore has mostly been a spectator this season. Well, with Pierre-Paul in danger of missing the rest of the season, it’s time to see what the Giants have in the young defensive end.
Moore has an amazing set physical and athletic attributes and these last few games could tell us how he might be used going forward. It should be interesting to see how he does considering the Chargers’ offensive line is formidable, allowing the fourth-fewest sacks in the league.
Has Justin Tuck found the fountain of youth?
In his last two games, Tuck has racked up five sacks and is looking more like the player he was in the Giants’ Super Bowl runs. But can he keep it up?
Tuck is the unquestioned leader on defense and when he plays well, it trickles down with the whole defense feeding off of him. Last week in the second half against Washington, the Giants contained Robert Griffin III and the team followed Tuck’s lead (four sacks in the game). However, like I just said before, the Chargers do a good job of keep Rivers upright and safe.
So, if Tuck can build off last week’s success and get to Rivers, it will go a long way toward securing a win on Sunday.
Will Brandon Myers build on his recent success?
After a miserable stretch in the middle of the season where he was virtually non-existent, recording just 13 catches for 157 receiving yards with no touchdowns through week’s 3-11; Myers has come alive as a viable target for Manning at tight end in the last couple of weeks.
In his last two games, Myers has registered eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns. With him becoming more of a focal point in the passing attack, he has opened the field while finally living up to some of his preseason hype.
Myers could be an X-factor in the game and we’ll get to see if Myers can keep it rolling.