After a less than thrilling victory last week over the Raiders, the Chargers do have some good things to talk about. It felt a bit like 2007, with the Chargers scoring a TD on the opening drive with ease, Merriman getting two sacks, LT two touchdowns, and Cromartie pulling in and INT. The downside of that game is that there is no way the Chargers beat the Giants this week if they play on the same par.
The Giants meanwhile have looked terrible for three straight weeks. They have given up 92 points in those three games. Things don’t look much better for them with the Chargers high octane passing game coming into town with sunny skies on the forecast.
With that being said, let’s look at the key matchups for this week’s game.
Osi Umenyiora (DE) vs. Marcus McNeill (LT)
McNeill looked like the long awaited answer to left tackle problems in his rookie year, but has since raised as many questions as solutions. He is huge and shows flashes of dominance, but not consistently. Umenyiora is one of the top young defensive ends in the league, and should make life difficult on McNeill. The Giants pass defense has been horrendous the last three weeks and the only chance they have of stopping the Chargers is up front with the pass rush. If McNeill shuts down Umenyiora, Rivers could have a big day.
Justin Tuck (DE) vs. Jeromey Clary
If you can’t tell, I think the Giants pass rush is the key to this whole game. If Rivers has time, the Chargers receivers will shred this defense. The pass rush was the Giants key to their Super Bowl run two years ago, and will be the key again this Sunday. The Chargers running game is secondary to the passing game, and the Giants secondary is questionable at best. With clear weather on the horizon, the Chargers need to protect Rivers and good things will happen. Tuck and Umenyiora are both studs and capable of getting to the QB, so this is a big challenge for the Chargers front line.
Kevin Burnett and/or Stephen Cooper vs. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw
The Chargers run defense was the obvious hole to start the season, but has improved slightly over the last few weeks. The squad gave up 321 yards, but on 99 carries, which comes out to 3.24 yards per carry. The Giants passing game is dangerous but has faltered because of a lack of run support. Tim Dobbins was playing great filling in for Burnett, but gets injured just in time for Burnett’s return. Hopefully he is feeling well and the two inside linebackers can control the run. Jacbobs hasn’t been running like he used to, maybe he isn’t 100%, maybe he is satisfied after getting his payday. Either way, the Giants are going to have to open up the run game in order to keep pace with the Chargers’ offense.