“I think the message is clear,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “I think we know what we’ve got to do and what’s at stake, how important this game is. We’ve got to turn this thing around.”
THE LINE: Giants by 4
TV: Ch. 2 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
RADIO: WFAN-660 AM (Bob Papa, Carl Banks), Nationwide on Sports USA Radio (Larry Kahn, Troy West)
FORECAST: Pleasant with temperatures in the low 60s with 4 mph winds.
The Giants are hopeful of getting back LB Michael Boley (knee) and DT Chris Canty (calf). The Chargers were not optimistic about getting C Nick Hardwick (ankle) back for the game. NT Ogemdi Nwagbuo (ankle) will be a gametime decision. ILB Kevin Burnett has missed two straight games and is also unlikely to return. With Tim Dobbins (knee) also out, Brandon Siler would get his first start.
WRs Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon vs. CBs Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie: We seem to have returned to the problem the Giants were supposed to have coming into this season: no Plaxico Burress. Smith may be among the leaders in receptions, but the impact play down the field has gone missing. The Chargers’ corners have shutting teams down and the Giants need to attack the middle of the field, perhaps with Kevin Boss. Establishing play-action passes should help.
QB Philip Rivers vs. Giants safetys: It’s no secret CC Brown has been targeted by opponents’ game plans, resulting in him being replaced by Aaron Rouse. The confident Rivers isn’t shy about going deep (18 completions of 25-plus yards). And he is certainly capable of carving up this group with his own Jackson, namely Vincent Jackson. The Giants are going to have to get on him early with jams at the line of scrimmage.
“The Chargers, like the Giants, have had red zone problems but look for their version of the wildcat, which they broke out last week, when they get down there. LaDainian Tomlinson gets the snap and he can throw. The Chargers are blitzing more with a lot of pre-snap movement and it’s opened things up for Shawne Merriman (first two sacks last week) and Shuan Phillips (four sacks last two games) off the edge. Eli (Manning)’s mechanics have not been good, even worse with people in his face. The Giants have to have more patience with their running game, especially with the Chargers’ numbers against the run (sixth worst in NFL).”
Tom Coughlin is calling it a one-game season. The Giants couldn’t be more desperate after three straight losses, including last week’s meltdown in Philly. Their trademark swagger is gone and they are making mental mistakes everywhere, so people are wondering how good they really are. The Chargers need to show they can step up against a more formidable opponent on the road with the Eagles and Broncos on deck.
BOLTS 29-24: Rivers picks up where Brees, Warner and McNabb left off.
– Hank Gola