By Dave Thomas
With their AFC playoff hopes essentially on life support, the San Diego Chargers prepare to host Eli Manning and the New York Giants this Sunday.
The Giants, who are fighting for their own playoff lives over in the NFC, scored another big win Sunday evening, topping the Washington Redskins 24-17 on the road. With the victory, the G-Men have won five of their last six games, quite a feat considering this team started the season 0-6.
Along with the playoff implications for both teams this Sunday, there are no doubt some Charger fans with long memories. You know, the ones that still despise Archie Manning and the younger brother of Denver great Peyton Manning.
Once drafted in 2004 by the Chargers, the Mannings (Archie and Eli) decided that the younger Ole Miss product wanted nothing to do with playing in Southern California for a team that was perceived as being a rebuilding squad for years to come. As a result, the deal was made that sent Manning to the Giants, who in turn traded their draft pick, Philip Rivers, to the Chargers.
While Manning has won a pair of Super Bowls since coming into the league, Rivers has put up some impressive numbers and become San Diego’s franchise player, yet has not been able to get his team to the big dance (has one AFC Championship Game loss to New England).
Giants Get on a Roll
For anyone that follows the NFL or the Giants for that matter, they know that having a Manning at the controls pretty much gives your team a good chance of winning each and every time it steps onto the field.
Yes, Eli Manning is not putting up the gaudy numbers this season that his older brother in Denver is, but he still has his team in the hunt for the post-season, something that many folks would have thought was all but a fantasy just a few weeks back. For the Giants, the playoffs are certainly not a fantasy with four weeks in the regular season to go.
In looking at the team’s offensive product, you of course start with the aforementioned Eli Manning. To date, Manning has thrown for 2,995 yards and 15 touchdowns.
New York’s biggest challenge has been putting together a formidable rushing attacking this season. After 12 games, Andre Brown leads the way with 343 yards on the ground and three TD’s. In the air, Manning likes to target wide receivers Victor Cruz (931 yards receiving, 4 touchdowns) and Hakeem Nicks (654 yards) when healthy.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants have been led to date by the likes of Antrel Rolle (69 total tackles, five INT’s) and Justin Tuck (6.5 sacks).
If San Diego is to pull to 6-7 on the year, it will need to keep Manning in check, force New York to rely on its ground game to move the ball, and muster more than 91 total yards rushing. That last stat was part of the reason the Chargers fell to the Bengals this past Sunday by a 17-10 score.
In an all-time series that is tied at 5-5, the Chargers have won the last two meetings between the teams, most recently in 2009.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.