The Giants haven’t defeated the Chargers since Sept. 27, 1998. If that makes you feel old, it’s not going to help when we mention the Giants’ starting quarterback was Danny Kanell, and the Chargers’ starter was Ryan Leaf.
The Giants started fast, scoring the game’s first 21 points in a 34-16 victory. Kanell was serviceable, throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Leaf? In his second-ever regular-season home start, the Giants intercepted him four times, with safety Percy Ellsworth hauling in a pair of picks. After Ellsworth took back the second interception for a touchdown, the Chargers pulled Leaf in favor of Craig Whelihan.
In the end, Leaf’s San Diego career didn’t go as hoped. However, the Chargers eventually did find a long-term answer at quarterback.
His name his Philip Rivers. And banking on him to throw four interceptions in San Diego’s latest meeting with the Giants probably isn’t wise.
Here is our preview of Sunday’s Giants-Chargers matchup:
Reasons why the Giants can win Sunday
The Giants should be able to establish the run and the pass against San Diego. The Chargers’ defense struggles in multiple areas. If the Giants’ offense executes, it could have one of its better games of the season Sunday.
Eli Manning passed with precision in Sunday’s win at Washington. Manning’s accuracy has been lacking at times this season, but he was on-point last Sunday, completing a season-high 78.6 percent of this throws. When Manning is throwing strikes, this can be a dangerous offense, given the Giants’ willingness to stretch the field in the passing game.
The Giants’ defense is capable to standing toe-to-toe with the Chargers’ potent offense. The Giants have allowed two offensive TDs or less in seven consecutive games. The defense’s sustained run of strong play has helped Big Blue back to respectability.
The Giants have cut down on the turnovers. New York has committed just one turnover in each of the last three games. For a team that had committed 28 turnovers in its first nine games, a turnover per contest is progress.
The Chargers’ recent form is somewhat shaky. Losses in 4-of-5 games have left San Diego (5-7) a game behind in the AFC wildcard race. In that same span, the Giants are 3-1.
Reasons why the Giants could run into trouble at San Diego
As 5-7 teams go, the Chargers are fairly formidable. Five of San Diego’s seven defeats are by seven points or less.
While Manning has largely struggled, Rivers has played a Pro Bowl level this season. Rivers, who’s closing in on 4,000 yards passing, has completed 70 percent of his throws. Given how the quarterbacks have performed this season, the Chargers could have a clear edge at this position on Sunday.
The Chargers have a deep, talented pass catching corps. Five Chargers have more than 30 catches, with tight end Antonio Gates, running back Danny Woodhead and wideout Keenan Allen the top three pass catchers. Second-year tight end Ladarius Green (22.1 yards per catch) has had a bigger role recently, too. Can the Giants match up with all of these targets?
The Giants have had their problems against the AFC West this season. The Broncos and Chiefs handled the Giants without much trouble, and the Raiders played Big Blue to within four points in November. Also, note that the Chargers have beaten three teams (Dallas, Philadelphia, Kansas City) that have handed the Giants four of their seven losses.
The Giants started slow before rallying to beat Washington on Sunday. Big Blue can’t spot San Diego 14 points like it did Washington. The Chargers are a significantly better team than the Redskins.
This looks like a coin flip. The Chargers have the advantage on offense, while the Giants are superior on defense. In the end, we see Big Blue holding up just enough defensively and keeping their playoff hopes alive. The Giants’ comeback win at Washington last week was a reminder of their resilience, and they don’t look ready to exit stage left just yet.
Predicted score: Giants 24, Chargers 23.