The San Diego Chargers (4-3, 2nd place AFC West) come to the Meadowlands this afternoon to face the New York Giants (5-3, 3rd place NFC East).
This is the first time in 14 years the Chargers have come east to play the Giants. The last time San Diego was here was in 1995 - the infamous "Snowball Game".
If you remember, the Giants were on their way to a miserable season and were losing the game badly. Snow had begun to fall in the second half, and fans threw ice and snowballs at the Chargers for most of the second half. Several Chargers' players and staff members were injured.
This is also the a first for Chargers' QB Philip Rivers, who will be making his Meadowlands debut.
TV: CBS (Ch 2 in NY) 4:15pm Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Radio: WFAN 660am Announcers: Bob Papa and Carl Banks
The Line: Giants by 5. O/U 47.5
The skinny on San Diego: The Chargers are going through a phase much like the Giants: both teams won their respective divisions last year but this season they may each find themselves battling just to make the playoffs. Defensive injuries have both teams looking vulnerable.
The Chargers have had difficulty stopping good rushing teams (they are ranked 27th in the NFL against the run). All-Pro DT Jamal Williams, the team's massive run-stopper, is out the for the season with a torn tricep. His replacement, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, has an ankle injury and has been limited. MLB Kevin Burnett, also has an ankle injury and his primary backup, Tim Dobbins, is unlikely to play due to a knee problem.
This game could be a big one on the ground for the struggling Giants, who desperately need to get their running game going.
San Diego's credibility has come into question having beaten a string of patsies, but failing against top competition. They defeated Oakland twice, Kansas City and Miami while losing to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Denver. Sound familiar...?
On offense, the Chargers rely heavily on Rivers, and he delivering with another Pro Bowl-caliber performance so far this season. His sizeable receivers may give the Giants' embattled secondary fits in this game. On the ground, the once mighty duo of LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles are averaging only 3.3 yards per carry and are ranked next to last in the league in rushing.
Other Giant potential problems.......Eli Manning is still feeling the effects of the injured foot. He has basically stunk since the injury was revealed after the Kansas City game. His performance won't get much better today going up against the Chargers' formidable pass defense. San Diego's corners - Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie - are physical players who could negate the Giants' young, diminutive receiving corps. Their secondary is opportunistic as well, possessing the ability to return INTs to the house. Eli better be careful......
Darren Sproles is a dangerous player in both the passing game and on special teams. The way the Giants have been playing, they may be in for a long day on specials unless they strategically kick to avoid Sproles.
Bottom line.....the Giants will need to play pac-man with the clock, eating up time through long, productive drives which will limit Rivers' possessions. They also need Aaron Rouse to make the right reads to help out the corners and to stop All-Pro TE Antonio Gates. He should get some help from the returning Michael Boley, but the Chargers will look to exploit Rouse with Gates....
This game scares me.....