Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At San Diego Chargers
- QuarterbackThe Giants have certainly been playing better football in recent weeks since they have won five of their last six games following an 0-6 start. Eli Manning is still not playing his best football, but he is playing much better than he did during the losing streak when he was committing multiple turnovers every week. Manning has improved his TD-interception ratio to 15-18.The Chargers took a nasty fall when they lost at home to the Bengals. They probably don’t have a good chance at earning the final AFC playoff spot, but they are going to have to win at least three of the their final four – and perhaps all four – in order to have a shot. Philip Rivers has been sharp, completing 70.0 percent of his passes and he has thrown 23 TD passes.
- OffenseThe Giants have gotten a lift from running back Andre Brown in recent weeks. Brown has run for 343 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry. If the Giants are going to win this game on the road, they need to get excellent production from Victor Cruz. The Salsa-dancing wideout excels at picking up yards after the catch. Tight end Brandon Myers is a solid third-down receiver.The Chargers need to attack the Giants with their running game, and that means Ryan Mathews must be on top of his game. Mathews rushed for 61 yards against the Bengals in Week 13. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is the Chargers' best receiver. He has caught 58 passes for 843 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Gates remains a solid third-down target, but he was not at his best in the loss to the Bengals.
- DefenseThe Giants struggled badly on defense earlier in the year, but they have been playing much better in recent weeks. They rank 11th in yards allowed, and they are led by strong safety Antrel Rolle, who has a team-high 69 tackles, with 15 passes defensed and five interceptions. Defensive end Justin Tuck had 4.0 sacks in the Week 13 win over the Redskins.The Chargers rank 28th in yards allowed and they have had a difficult time stopping opponents when the game is on the line. Inside linebacker Donald has 59 tackles, while defensive end Cory Liuget leads the team with 4.0 sacks. Free safety Eric Weddle leads the team with 90 stops and he also has nine passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Giants have had major problems covering punts and kickoffs all year and they have not made big plays on their own returns. Placekicker Josh Brown has had a solid year, making 18-of-20 FG attempts. P Steve Weatherford has a big leg.The Chargers have done a solid job of covering kickoffs and punts all season. They have not allowed a return of longer than 42 yards this season. Placekicker Nick Novak has made 23-of-26 FG attempts this season. Punter Mike Scifres has dropped 23 of 46 punts inside the opponents’ 20.
The Giants have been playing more relaxed football, while the Chargers play as if they know something will always go wrong. Look for the Giants to get the road upset. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor