By Dave Thomas
Hoping to break a three-year playoff drought, the San Diego Chargers face another must-win situation when they play host to the New York Giants this Sunday afternoon.
After dropping a 17-10 decision at home to Cincinnati last Sunday, the Bolts saw their record fall to 5-7, leaving them on the outside looking in at an AFC wild card spot. While not officially eliminated from the race, San Diego essentially needs to win out and get some help along the way.
New York on a Giant Roll
Making things more challenging for the Chargers is the fact that Eli Manning and the Giants come to town on a roll. After starting the season at 0-6, New York (5-7) has rallied to win five of its last six games. Although New York is also in a precarious spot in trying to nail down an NFC playoff spot, it is not out of the running at this time.
The Giants, Super Bowl winners just two seasons ago, failed to make the NFC playoffs a season ago. After getting off to their horrific start this season, some wondered whether head coach Tom Coughlin would even make it through the entire season. Despite an ineffective Manning at times, lack of a dominant run game and questions on the defensive side of the ball, the Giants appeared to have righted the ship.
Chargers Lack Consistency
Meantime, the Chargers are just looking for any consistency possible.
After scoring a huge 41-38 win at Kansas City the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Chargers returned home and played like turkeys at times in their loss to the Bengals. Making the loss worse was the fact that it was a conference defeat for San Diego, one of the tiebreaker criteria that would come up at season’s end if two or more teams are tied for the final wild card spot.
There will be several keys for the Bolts in trying to get their sixth win of the season this Sunday, most notably establishing a running game.
While Ryan Mathews and Co. have had their moments this season, the moments have been few and far between.
In the loss to Cincinnati, the Chargers managed only 91 net rushing yards, putting much of the pressure once again on Philip Rivers to win the game. While the veteran quarterback is having a good season, he and his receivers are not capable of getting the job done 100 percent of the time. If the Chargers fail to run the ball effectively this Sunday, New York could be looking at its sixth win of the season.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Chargers were looking at the following injuries as of Thursday’s practice session:
- Tackle King Dunlap – (Neck) – full practice
- Tackle D.J. Fluker (Ankle) – full practice
- Defensive end Lawrence Guy (Toe) – full practice
- Center Nick Hardwick (Neck) – did not practice
- Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins (Knee) – full practice
- Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (Hand) full practice
- Defensive end Corey Liuget (Knee) limited practice
- Wide receiver/kick returner Eddie Royal (Toe, Chest) did not practice
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.