By Paul Dottino
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The Giants and San Diego Chargers own identical 5-7 records, although San Diego’s postseason chances are a bit better than those of the Giants. Regardless, this season will be considered a disappointment for both organizations.
There are some important fundamental elements to remember when watching this game — the Chargers have lost four of their last five and the Giants have won five of six. The Giants’ defense has climbed to 11th in the NFL; the Chargers has fallen to 29th.
Here are three key matchups in the game:
1. Giants RBs Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis vs. Chargers MLB Manti Teo — San Diego ranks 31st in the league, allowing 4.9 yards per rush. They usually are not very physical on defense nor do they tackle well. The Giants have produced three 100-yard rushers in the past seven games, highlighted by a 200-yard team output against Dallas two weeks ago. It is essential for the Giants to take advantage of the Chargers’ weakness while also keeping the ball away from QB Philip Rivers, who is on his way to a fifth Pro Bowl
2. Chargers TEs Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green vs. Giants’ back seven — How does defensive coodinator Perry Fewell defend these two when the Chargers use their double-TE set? Gates ranks second among NFL tight ends with 64 catches. Green only has 16 grabs but has averaged 22.1 yards with two TDs. LB Jaquain Williams likely will draw one assignment; S Will Hill may get the other. If San Diego is allowed to march downfield with medium-range completions to their TEs, it will be a long day for the Giants.
3. Giants MLB Jon Beason vs. Chargers RB Danny Woodhead — Woodhead leads NFL running backs with 61 catches, primarily because Rivers wants to get the ball out quickly and allow Woodhead and others to make plays out of short- and medium-range throws. The Chargers’ line is banged up, so their best mode of attack is to get the ball outside or to the second level, where their speed (Wooshead runs a 4.4) can create yardage. Beason will be on his horse all day, attempting to track down these targets.
PREDICTION: Giants 27, Chargers 24
Prediction record vs the spread: 8-4
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